Redbrick Issue 1515, Vol. 84
Friday 21st February 2020
A Selection of the BUCU Teach-Outs
The Official University of Birmingham Student Newspaper, est. 1936
Guild of Students to Announce Strike Stance The result of the Your Ideas referendum on whether the Guild of Students should support UCU Strikes will be announced today Redbrick
Charlie Young News Reporter
The fate of a motion put forward through the Your Ideas platform calling for the Guild of Students to support the upcoming UCU industrial action, is due to be decided upon today as student voting comes to a conclusion on the matter. The resolution calls on the Guild of Students to ‘unequivocally support campus trade unions in any future industrial action including strikes and Action Short of a Strike, relating to either of the ongoing disputes between UCU and university employers and USS.’ Some of the other resolutions of the motion include encouraging students either to join striking staff at pickets lines or not to cross over these lines, encouraging members to join trade unions and the provision of potable water and lavatory facilities free of charge for those strik-
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ing. The motion, championed by U o B S t u d e n t - S t a ff S o l i d a r i t y, states the beliefs of the movement, including that ‘University staff deserve justice in respect of pens ion i n c o m e i n r e t i r e m e n t based on fair contributions,’ ‘a stance of unequivocal support for UCU in respect of both ongoing disputes is the best way the Guild of Students can influence a positive outcome for students’ and that ‘casualisation of University staff, including insecure contracts h a s a d e t r i m e n t a l e ff e c t o n University staff. This effect is particularly occasioned on staff in the early part of their career, including Guild of Students members undertaking postgraduate research or working as teaching assistants.’ Furthermore, the motion calls for an amendment to Guild policy on trade unions, inserting into Belief and Commitment 19: ‘that any failure by the University to maintain good industrial relations
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with its academic or support staff is deleterious to the academic experience and overall interests of students. The Guild believes that University staff deserve to be employed on secure contracts that guarantee dignity in retirement and a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. The Guild further believes that its members should be encouraged to join an appropriate trade union. ‘In the event of legitimate industrial action taken by campus trade unions, the Guild commits to support such action, unless instructed otherwise by the result of a referendum held in accordance with the Guild’s by-laws. ‘The Guild will publicise such action, educate its members as to the reasons for and effects of such action, encourage its members to join staff on picket lines, and lobby University management to engage in negotiations with campus trade unions. The Guild will provide free use of its premises for alternative educa-
tional provision and provide refreshment facilities to campus trade unions for the duration of any such action.’ A social media post by the U o B S t u d e n t - S t a ff S o l i d a r i t y offers the tagline that ‘staff working conditions are our learning conditions.’ The group, which calls for students and staff to support the strikes have been a significant presence related to the Your Ideas motion. The 14-day strikes, which are planned to take place over the next four weeks, are part of the second round of industrial action launched by UCU over disputes concerning pensions, casualisation and staff pay, with the prior occurring between November and December of last year. The proposition comes after the Guild remained neutral over previous UCU industrial action. T h e o ff i c e r t e a m p r e v i o u s l y issued an apology over claims they misled the student body over that neutral strike stance.
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Friday 21st February 2020
Letter From the Committee: Just a few days ago, I sent out the Facebook event for the 2020 AGM, which for me and, I am sure most of the committee, marks the beginning of the end of our time in this role. I started my time as Social and Social Media Secretary on a whim because no one went forward for the role initially. I decided that since I spend a lot of time on my phone and love a good party, maybe I could do it. Before my friends around me realised, I had put my hand up and was walking to the front of the room to deliver a speech I definitely had not even thought about, never mind prepared because, in my mind, a first-year would not win a committee role. While it certainly wasn’t as polished as our Editor-in-Chief’s speech with flashcards, I feel my honesty about how important Redbrick was to me, especially how it got me through times of homesickness at the beginning of first year, really resonated with people. Ultimately, one of my favourite things about being your Social Secretary this year is that it highlights to me all the things I love about Redbrick on a much wider scale. Spending more time in the office and understanding the stress of print deadlines more has shown me how strong the bonds of friendship are in this society. Whether it is how proud of my best friend and News Editor, Aneesa, I am for all the work she puts in, the gorgeous friendship that
our Deputy-Editors share together, how Natalia, your Print Editor, always puts cute messages in cards or how the Digital Editors always have a smile for you. Each section always supports each other, whether that’s when writers are having blocks or editors are struggling with workloads. Something else that I love that I get to see as Social Sec is how people who graduated many years ago still follow the newspaper on Instagram and have fond memories of their time here. One of the most rewarding parts of being Redbricks Social Secretary was planning the Media Ball. There was definitely moments where you were all drunk and producing some interesting dance moves and I thought to myself ‘wow, everyone’s all enjoying themselves and I planned a whole ball... how did that happen?!’ Although for anyone reading this that took way more than one glass of prosecco than your allocated amount, I still do not forgive you. Another fulfilling moment was over the Christmas period when I purchased, and with the help of the committee, decorated the office. Surprise - I am your little Christmas elf in the office. More important than the decorations and advent calendars left out for you to enjoy was the huge response we had to the foodbank. This was something new for Redbrick but when I put the idea forward, I know all of you would
far succeed my expectations. So, on behalf of the local foodbank, a big thank you to all of you. What I am trying to say is that while I am biased in thinking Social Secretary is the best position, all the committee roles are truly valuable, and you should apply! It does not matter what year you’re in or how much experience you have. If you have any questions, please message one of us. From the dungeons, etc...
Becky Hall Social Secretary
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Friday 21st February 2020
Government Plans to Rank Universities by Salary Revealed Amy Lakin News Reporter
The Guardian has revealed that the Government plans to rank universities in the United Kingdom by graduate salary. The contested proposal comes after the current Conservative government announced they plan to address the problem of low earning university courses. The ranking system would see the removal of courses that do not give graduates sufficient earning prospects. Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy institution told The Week that, ‘When Ofsted goes into a school it judges whether it is a good or bad school based on what is happening there. It doesn’t say we think this is a
bad school because kids who have been here in the past have got bad jobs. That is how universities will be judged.’ Concerns have emerged that these measures could significantly damage humanities courses, that are traditionally lower earning than vocational subjects such as Medicine and Engineering. Professor Alec Cameron, vicechancellor of Aston University in Birmingham said ‘Salary is evidence of things, including where you live, what sector you’re in, and what sort of job you are pursuing. We should push back against the idea that a good salary is an adequate measure of how much a job matters to society.’ Universities in less economically prosperous locations could
also face being affected. Statistics from Luminate show that graduate salary, aside from course studied, is also subject to the location of the graduate job. Graduates working in London are likely to earn £24, 991 on average whereas in the West Midlands area, this figure stands at £21, 585. In response to criticisms raised regarding the measures, The Department for Education said, ‘the government subsidies around 50% of the cost of higher education and it is only fair that this funding is used as efficiently as possible, so students can be confident they are getting good value for money.’ The Government has also revealed that they plan to use the data to work in collaboration with
the Office for Students. Courses which offer reduced earning prospects could risk being abolished from the Office for Students register.
“It is only fair that this funding is used as efficiently as possible” The plans have led people to draw comparison with the Teaching excellence framework (TEF), released in 2017. The Guardian highlighted that, ‘Some of the UK’s leading universities failed to get the top gold rating, with the London School of Economics being awarded only a bronze.’ Redbrick
UK Universities Turning Students Away From Overcrowded Lectures Alex Boscott News Editor
Students at top UK universities have been turned away from lectures due to overcrowding and told to watch the lecture on livestreams, according to The Observer. Students from universities in Nottingham, Lancaster and Manchester have been refused entry to their lectures as a result of lecture theatres reaching full capacity. As a response, the universities have been offering students the opportunity to watch a YouTube live-stream or watch the lecture in a ‘overflow’ rooms without the ability to actively engage in lectures. Universities UK, the representative body of UK higher education, stated that: ‘Universities will be mindful to ensure this does not compromise the quality of teaching or disadvantage students not attending in person.’ The University of Manchester told The Observer that ‘when
overcrowding does occur, we work with schools to resolve it as quickly as possible and use various solutions, including moving the lecture to a larger location or splitting the cohort into smaller groups.’
“A particular set of law lectures proved more popular than anticipated for the allocated theatre capacity” This issue was also present at the University of Nottingham, who stated that: ‘For a two-week period last September, a particular set of law lectures proved more popular than anticipated for the allocated theatre capacity... Rather than disappoint students, we arranged a live stream of the lecture for some 20 students in the adjoining theatre, with full technical support and additional tutorials to ensure they could explore the lecture topic in
person with tutors.’ The National Union of Students (NUS) has since stated that overcrowded lectures is a result of ‘desperate’ universities over-subscribing their courses in order to increase tuition-fee income. Giving their views on the issue of overcrowded lectures, one University of Birmingham student told Redbrick: ‘I think it's ridiculous that we pay £9250-a-year but can’t fit into a lecture theatre. I think universities should be cutting down their class sizes, holding more classes or building bigger lecture theatres.’ Another UoB student said that ‘we already give universities a lot of pressure so I think we should not pressure them over class sizes. Half the people don’t turn up to lectures anyway so why should they bother.’ With overcrowding becoming an ever increasing problem for UK universities, UoB has recently undertaken building developments in order to provide students with additional study spaces, lecture theatres and seminar rooms. One
such development is the recently completed Teaching and Learning Building, located on the Green Heart, which possesses ‘a 500 seater lecture theatre, a 250 seater interactive lecture theatre, 10 seminar rooms for 30 students at a time and learning spaces for up to 1,000 students’ - in order to ‘support the modern learning experience’ at the university.
“I think it's ridiculous that we pay £9250-a-year but can’t fit into a lecture theatre” However, with undergraduate and postgraduate intake at universities increasing steadily year on year since 2012, how universities will deal with the increasing demand is not yet understood and will most certainly require increased investment into new developments on campuses.
Former Guild President Urges Students to Join Unions Becky Gelder News Reporter
Former Guild President Reece Patrick Roberts has urged students to join a trade union in a Facebook post this week. The post, shared to the student page ‘Fab N Fresh’ on the 7th February, encouraged students to think about the benefits of joining a trade union for ‘literally a few pounds a month.’ In the post, the former President explained: ‘it may not seem important, but you must think about joining a trade union while or after university. ‘Many organisations, as we move towards a more economical and political uncertain future, will be looking to restructure, lay off staff, not increase pay inline with the cost of living... a trade union... will defend you through legal means if your employer takes the p*ss.’ Roberts also encouraged students who are employed either ‘through Worklink, the Guild or externally’ to look into joining a union. This follows on from major issues faced by those employed through Worklink over summer, which prevented casual workers from receiving payment. Also included in the Facebook post from the former Guild President were a number of links to trade union websites. In a statement to Redbrick, Roberts explained: ‘During my time a President, I wanted the Guild of Students to automatically enrol their student staff onto a trade union.' Roberts highlighted the importance of trade unions promoting living wage accreditaton, fair work practices and legal support in case of unfair dismissal.
“They will be there when you need them most” He continued: ‘students are the least likely to be members of a trade union. With companies most recently [such] as ASDA and HSBC looking to lay off staff, restructure or force them into new contracts, it’s time to see that organisations all over this country are streamlining or embracing new technologies.’ The former President also reiterated his message to students to join a trade union: ‘for the price of an Irn Bru from SPAR, they will be there when you need them the most.’ One current second-year student told Redbrick: ‘I think it's very important that young people and students engage with unions. I also think that Reece was right to advocate this. 'The earlier that students get involved with workplace democratic processes, the better they'll be set up for the rest of their working lives.’
Friday 21st February 2020
High Air Polluton Levels Detected in Birmingham Catrin Osborne Television Editor
Illegal levels of air pollution have been detected at the site of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. On Tuesday 11th February, Breathe GB released a study of air pollution levels and found that Perry Park has significantly high levels of Particulate Matter (PM2.5) and illegal levels of nitrous oxide (NO2). Perry Park is home to Birmingham BMX Race Track and Alexander Stadium, which will be used for the Commonwealth Games 2020’s opening and closing ceremonies. These findings were part of the Breathe GB campaign which aims to reduce air pollution in areas where children and young adults train for sport. In collaboration with EarthSense, their study analysed the air at 94 sporting sites across the UK. Although the UK follows EU guidelines for particulate matter, the report used guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO), which are stricter than the EU's. Out of the 21 locations analysed in Birmingham, 20 were rated 9 out of 11 for PM2.5 limit (with 11 exceeding WHO guidelines). Out of these, Perry Park had 40+ levels of NO2, which is illegal. Following these figures, the Breathe GB Campaign are calling ‘for the government to adopt WHO-recommended levels of NO2 and PM2.5 as a minimum by 2030.’
“Perry Park had 40+ levels of NO2, which is illegal” Air pollution has damaging effects, particularly on young people training for sports. Studies show that children exposed to roadside air pollution can have their lung growth stunted by 14%. Also, particulate pollution can lead to cardiovascular disease. Recently, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) urged the government to work faster in tackling air pollution and recommending that WHO guidelines are followed.
“This is exactly why we are taking responsibility for the situation by creating a Climate Change Taskforce” In response to Birmingham Mail, Cllr Waseem Zaffar stated: ‘this is exactly why we are taking responsibility for the situation by creating a Climate Change Taskforce.’ He pointed to schemes such as the Clean Air Zone, insisting that the council is committed to improving the levels of air pollution before the Commonwealth Games.
City Council Plans to Collect Bins Every Three Weeks Diana-Andreea Mandiuc News Reporter
Birmingham City Council says that ‘offensive’ food rubbish represents up to 40 per cent of the total waste in Birmingham and has considered collecting it separately. Weekly removal of the ‘smelly’ and ‘offensive’ food waste from bins across the city means the rest of the household rubbish would be picked up every three weeks. A review conducted externally showed that fundamental improvements should be made, including replacing the vehicles and changing the timetables for bin collections. Three main options are considered for rebuilding the trust of
the residents, all of them mentioning the weekly collection of the food waste from bins. The first option means food waste will be collected weekly together with the household waste and other recycling items fortnightly. The second option would be a fortnightly household rubbish service after removing the food waste and the third option is a three-weekly service. The Government is planning to make the weekly food waste collection mandatory within the local authorities by 2023. Phase two of the review made by consultants Wood Environment and Infrastructure Solutions UK considering the options and the future impact is now due to start. As stated by member of the cabinet for street scene and parks, Cllr John O’Shea, no change will
be implemented without consulting the public first. ‘Some councils just take away uncooked food. I think we would go down the path of all food waste, so uncooked and cooked food and meat,’ affirmed O’Shea. He continued: ‘It has to be disposed of in a different way and it goes to an anaerobic digester. Food waste works because it changes people's behaviour.’ The change of the bin service improves the [...] functioning of the system and makes people aware of the enormous quantity of food waste, said O’Shea. He stated that although recycling is important, the biggest change will be seen in the consumption behaviour, buying less food and finding a way to re-use it. According to O’Shea, 1,000 tonnes of food waste are thrown each day
and the new plan could reduce it to 300 to 400. ‘The actual smelly stuff you get rid of each week, I think if that wasn't there what is left in your bin? Bits of plastic, stuff that has been in contact with food we can't recycle,’ he stated. There is no clear information related to what type of containers would be used when the plan will be implemented by the Council, but extra funding would be used to implement the service. Birmingham City Council consulted other local authorities in the UK where the food waste initiative has been implemented, said Darren Share, Assistant Director for Street Scene. It had such a big impact on the bad consumption behavior that some authorities stopped the food waste service because there was no food waste.
Uber’s Licence Renewed in Birmingham Christina Manns News Editor
After expiring at the end of January, Uber’s licence to operate in Birmingham has been recently renewed by the city council. This comes after Uber’s licence was not renewed in London last November after Transport for London (TfL) said a ‘pattern of failures’ had risked passenger safety. A spokesman for Birmingham City Council said: ‘We can confirm we have issued a 12-month licence.’ Uber has operated in Birmingham since 2015, and Uber’s general manager said she was ‘delighted’ at Uber’s continued presence in the city. However, Uber is currently appealing against TfL’s decision to not renew their licence in London. This was due to safety concerns about Uber’s operating systems, as unauthorised and uninsured drivers had made at least 14,000 fraudulent trips across late 2018 and early 2019. There have also been particular concerns about the safety of female passen-
gers travelling alone with Uber. One woman told the BBC: ‘I complained a couple of months ago about a driver who made me feel so uncomfortable I abandoned the ride and walked home in the dark at 11 o'clock at night instead of staying in his cab.’
“When it comes to safety, our work is never done” Others have defended Uber, including one second-year student who said: ‘I think Uber having their licence renewed in Birmingham is great! Uber is an affordable and easy way for students such as myself to get around. In an era where we are trying to save the environment, we should be using more services like Uber so that we don’t have to buy cars.’ Melinda Roylett, the UK and Ireland Uber general manager, said: ‘There is nothing more important than the safety of the riders and drivers who use the Uber app, and we know that when it comes to safety, our work is never done.’
Cardiff SU President: Strikes May Affect Student Graduations Joseph Meakin News Reporter
An article published by The Tab has revealed that the upcoming UCU strike action could result in students being unable to graduate at the end of this academic year. Jackie Yip, Cardiff University’s student union president, said in an email chain that included over 70 student union presidents that ‘further strike action will now mean some of my students will have missed so much content that they
will not be able to graduate this year, even if there are mitigating actions put in place.’
“Students will have missed so much content that they will not be able to graduate this year”
Guild President Joshua Williams told Redbrick: ‘I'm not aware at present that this will be an issue at Birmingham but we will continue to support students’ academic interests before, during and after the strike period.’ Redbrick also contacted the University of Birmingham’s press office, which passed on the following statement giving reassurances to UoB’s final-year students: ‘We understand that the possibility of strike action at this time may be of particular concern to
final year and PGT students and we are currently putting measures in place to ensure that strike action will not unduly affect anyone’s ability to graduate.’ He also recommended students take a look at the ‘University Strike FAQs’ page on the intranet, for further guidance with regards to strike action. Have you got any thoughts? Get in touch with us @redbricknews
Friday 21st February 2020
Prime Minister Visits Birmingham to Celebrate HS2 Go-Ahead Adam Toms News Reporter
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the site of Birmingham’s Curzon Street Station to celebrate his formal approval of HS2, stating that the project will be ‘truly fantastic’ for the whole country. Birmingham will act as the heart of the multi billion pound rail development thought to be operating in Birmingham by 2028/29. Boris Johnson gave HS2 the green light on 11th February as the government made its final decision after a report was leaked regarding a potential doubling of the project’s budget. The report suggests that 2011 costing predictions of £50 billion
may yet double to £106 billion. Days before his statement to the commons, the PM had suggested his advocacy of the scheme by stating that one must ‘keep digging’ the hole which HS2 has created. The high speed rail network will reduce journey times from Leeds, Manchester, and Birmingham to London and vice versa. The PM hopes it will also create jobs, assist the fight against climate change, increase overall rail capacity – particularly needed in the north – and help with his aim of ‘level[ing] up’ neglected regions in the midlands and the north. West Midlands mayor Andy Street is a keen advocate of this policy and, along with many Birmingham MPs, has publicly
implored Johnson to approve the One woman told Redbrick that rail scheme. she was ‘really excited’ due to the Since the approval he has possibility of Birmingham reiterated how he thinks being able to rival media the scheme is worth cities like London and every penny, citing Salford. the channel tunnel Whereas, a and motorway homeless man said networks when he thought the emphasising how project was ‘disThe estimated cost our ancestors also gusting, we’ve got of HS2 after underwent costly enough trains in revisions of the 2011 B i r m i n g h a m . ’ infrastructure figures projects. Money should be He also stated spent on ‘places for that what people in the homeless.’ Birmingham will get Moreover, another man ,‘very quickly actually, is jobs replied ‘No’ when asked if the from this.’ project is worth the money and Although, public thoughts suggested money should also go given to Redbrick outside to ‘smaller places i.e. Swindon’ Birmingham New Street Station rather than ‘bigger cities.’ were more varied. Dominic Cummings, the PM’s
chief advisor, concurs and believes that HS2 only benefits already affluent cities with ‘left behind’ towns feeling aggrieved. The Tories need to consolidate their hold over voters there before the next election. Cummings called HS2 a ‘disaster zone’ days before Johnson formally approved the project and HS2’s green light has been seen as a blow to Cummings’ formidable reputation. After the PM's announcement on the future of HS2, the Chancellor Sajid Javid resigned after he rejected No. 10's request for him to sack his advisory team in No. 11. Javid was then replaced by Johnson with Rishi Sunak former Chief Secretary to the Treasury during Javid's time as Chancellor.
West Midlands Mayor Issues Warning to WMR Over Franchise Future Charlie Young News Reporter
Andy Street, the Conservative mayor of the West Midlands combined authority, has issued warnings to West Midland Trains that it must continue to improve its rail operations, or risk losing its franchise after an ultimatum given in December claiming rail commuters have had a ‘torrid time.’ The government has since appealed for the train operator to invest £20m in improving rail services in the West Midlands. In December Mr. Street issued WMT an ultimatum that should it not dramatically improve the performance of its rail operations significantly, he would implore the government to strip the franchise of its contract. This was in reference to long-standing complaints by commuters of the state
of rail services in the West Midlands, with cancellations, delays and overcrowded trains a mainstay, with one survey showing 65% of passengers reporting disrupted services between October and December. The Mayor has hailed improvements made in January, with cancellations down from 1351 in December to 203 in January and 34% of passengers reporting disruption according to the same survey carried out at the behest of Mr. Street. His letter to the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps MP, also praised the decision by WTM to hire 46 new drivers and 40 new guards, in addition to other measures which have helped alleviate the situation. However, he maintains ‘very serious concerns’ and has made clear that although these improvements have held off the threats made by this ultimatum, this progress must
be kept up. Street used his involvement in the improvements to call for the government to honour the Conservative election pledge to devolve rail powers, claiming he has demonstrated the ‘clear effectiveness of a mayor holding a rail firm to account.’ The government in turn bid WTM and its parent company, Abellio, to invest up to £20m improving services, with the money to be spent on improving timetables, increased driver and guard recruitment and reductions in some fares such as off-peak and season ticket renewals. This comes in the wake of the recent move from the government to strip Northern Rail of its contract and renationalise the franchise. Politicians had called for an end to the Northern Rail franchise due to its poor service delivery.
Mayor Proposes Brum Metro Network Adam Toms News Reporter
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, has announced a huge infrastructure overhaul to serve Birmingham and the West Midlands as part of his election campaign. The underground lines, inspired by the London Underground, form part of a wider 150 mile long revitalisation of the West Midlands network which also includes 21 new railway stations and 380 new stops. New Birmingham stations will be built in Ballsall Heath, Dudley Road and Tettenhall. Moreover, stations will be reopened including the old Aldridge, Pelsall, and Brownhill stations.
The re-opening of old lines is already being considered at the planning stage, including the Camp Hill line and the Walsall to Wolverhampton line. ITV News report that one of the lines will most likely be renamed after the first Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, Joseph Chamberlain. It is thought that this £15 billion project will take 20 years to complete with annual costs amounting to £750 million. Street has claimed that this extra financial burden will be made manageable due to extra investment in the Midlands – which along with the North is considered to be an area underfunded by past administrations promised by Boris Johnson’s government.
Future income from ticket sales from the announced Metro, contributions from housing and commercial developers and loans will also be utilised to cope with the cost. Andy Street has stated: ‘For too long we have been left behind by London and Manchester, and other cities around the world.’ ‘We are a world-class city region and we deserve a worldclass Metro and rail network.’ This announcement has formed a major part of Street’s attempts at re-election as he aims to establish a Johnsonian reputation for ‘levelling up’ the West Midlands with hefty infrastructure. This may prove problematic. As complications surrounding HS2 have shown, plans for large
scale infrastructure projects are always subject to a proliferation of costs and missed construction deadlines.
“We are a worldclass city and we deserve a worldclass Metro and rail network” In response to this point, Gary Phelps, campaign communicator for Andy Street, told Redbrick: ‘As this plan sets out an ambitious vision for the next 20 years, it is not possible to predict what challenges may be presented as they
become reality. However, Andy is determined to ensure that all of the schemes involved would be fully costed and delivered on budget, following on a funding model that is already successfully delivering a major Metro extension to the centre of Dudley.’ However, the cost cannot be ignored and may be a source of discomfort for Labour’s mayoralcandidate, Liam Byrne. His manifesto promises to combat inequality in a ‘tale of two cities’ with skyscrapers built above people sleeping rough - ‘Cranes are in our skies. But our homeless neighbours are sleeping in the doorways underneath’. The West Midlands mayoral election is set to take place on Thursday 7th May 2020.
Friday 21st February 2020
Cambridge Rise in Anti-Chinese Students’ Union Racism in the UK Bans Firearms Becky Gelder News Reporter
Cambridge University Student Union (CUSU) have passed a motion banning all firearms from CUSU run events, including the annual Freshers’ Fair. The controversial motion was put forward by CUSU’s Welfare and Rights Officer, and after a debate the vote passed by seventy-five percent to twenty-five percent. While the motion was ultimately passed, modifications had to be made in order for this to be achieved. The original proposal had not only intended to ban firearms from student union events, but had also looked to introduce a ban on all ‘external staff from national organisations,’ on the grounds that they are not student societies and therefore should not attend a student focused event. The two clauses addressing this particular issue, however, were removed before the final motion was put to a vote. Stella Swain, the Welfare and Rights Officer who had put forward the motion, believes that the Freshers’ Fair should not be seen as a chance for military organisations to recruit student. She stated ‘the presence of firearms and military personnel has the potential to detrimentally affect students’ mental welfare.’ Despite being voted through, the motion to ban firearms from CUSU events has not been welcomed by everybody. The pro-
posed motion was labelled by representatives from the Cambridge University Officer Training Corps as ‘unconstitutional and unfair’, and some have even accused the CUCU of ‘belligerence.’
“The presence of firearms and military personnel has the potential to detrimentally affect students’ mental welfare” Some Cambridge University students have also addressed the matter on an anonymous confession platform on Facebook called ‘Camfess.’ One post states: ‘thanks go to the welfare officer for making us the laughing stock of the press. Cheers.’ While some follow-up comments below the post defended Swain and criticised the press for their coverage, others supported the idea that students might want to find out about these military societies at student union events. One commenter also suggested that just because the officer was receiving online abuse, it did not mean that people should stop voicing their opinion if they believed she had made a mistake.
News Analysis: Byrne Secures Labour WM Mayor Nomination Joseph Meakin News Reporter
The Labour Party have selected their candidate for the upcoming West Midlands Mayoral election, MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill and former government minister Liam Byrne. Byrne topped the ballot of almost 7,000 Labour members with the former leader of Dudley council, Pete Lowe, coming in at second and former Respect Party leader, Salma Yaqoob, in third. The race to become the Labour candidate was a controversial one. Byrne was the treasury minister who left the infamous note saying ‘I’m afraid there is no money’ when Labour lost the 2010 general election. This was something that Byrne has said he will regret forever. Yaqoob, who was backed by the left-wing organisation Momentum, as well as Unite the Union and the Communication Workers Union, had previously suggested that former London Mayor Ken Livingstone was subjected to ‘Zionist smears’ when he was said to have made anti-Semitic remarks. She has also controversially shared a platform with anti-gay speakers. Yaqoob, who once said that
‘Bin Laden and Blair had far more in common with each other than their divisions,’ also has a history of standing against Labour candidates at general elections, adding to the controversy surrounding her candidature. In the 2017 election she stood against Naz Shah, the Labour MP for Bradford West in a campaign that Shah said drove her to ‘feeling suicidal.’ Yaqoob’s failure to secure the Labour candidacy – coming third to a veteran of the New Labour years – has been seen as a repudiation of the left-wing of the party. Byrne will take on Andy Street, the incumbent Conservative Party Mayor, at the polls in May. If the last election is anything to go by, the result could come down to a knife-edge. Mr Street was elected with 50.4 percent of the vote compared to the Labour candidate, Siôn Simon’s, 49.6 per cent share in 2017 at the final round of Voting. The West Midlands mayoral election is set to take place on Thursday 7th May 2020.
The news that coronavirus has spread to England has resulted in racism against the Chinese community in the UK, with Chinese restaurants facing a large decline in bookings. Martin Ma, general manager at Jinli restaurant, told the BBC that soon after the first UK cases were confirmed the restaurant faced ‘immediate cancellations’, with customers actually citing the virus as their reason for cancelling. Usually fully booked with people queueing out the door, the restaurant has seen a 50% decrease in bookings across all four of its branches in Chinatown (London), Uxbridge, and Birmingham. Ma estimates that the flagship restaurant alone lost £15,000 over one weekend, while another restaurant manager in the area said ‘people are scared, they’re staying away.’
The NHS website states ‘It's highly unlikely coronavirus can be spread through packages from affected countries or through food’ and the World Health Organisation has stated that the virus is predominantly spread through direct contact with an infected person. Chairman of the British Takeaway Campaign, Ibrahim Dogus, said that any prejudice against takeaways is ‘completely unacceptable and misinformed.’
“It's highly unlikely coronavirus can be spread through [...] food” Another Birmingham restaurant in the Chinese Quarter, which chose to remain anonymous, told Redbrick that ‘there has been a huge decrease’ in bookings since
the outbreak of coronavirus. When asked why they thought this was, they said ‘most people don’t really understand coronavirus so they’re scared and concerned.’ They added that, although they couldn’t speak for shops and restaurants outside of the Chinese Quarter, ‘for us, it is quite bad.’
“I know some people hate Chinese people for spreading the coronavirus” The apparent increase of casual racism stretches beyond people just avoiding restaurants. One Chinese student at UoB told us that she was stopped outside a supermarket one night and asked by an old man if she was Chinese. She recounted, ‘I was a bit afraid because I know some people hate Chinese people for spreading the coronavirus so I shook my head.’
Coronavirus Travel Ban Prevents Thousands Reaching University in Australia Amy Lakin News Reporter
Over 4,000 Chinese international students at the University of Sydney have signed a petition proposed by the university’s student council in response to the travel restrictions placed upon those travelling through China. The petition urges the Sydney university to delay the start of the semester from the current February 24th to March 9th. This is to avoid the loss of tuition time students face due to the fact they are unable to travel to Australia. The restrictions are a governmental measure to reduce the spread of Coronavirus. The Australian government announced that foreign nationals who have travelled through China since
the start of February will be prohibited from entering the country for a two-week period. The Guardian revealed that 100,000 Chinese international students who hold student visas are currently outside of Australia. President of the University of Sydney’s student council Liam Donohoe stated: ‘This travel ban will significantly disrupt the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, who are central to student communities at the University of Sydney and beyond.’ According to the BBC, countries such as Russia, Japan, Italy, and Pakistan have also implemented such travel restrictions amidst concerns over the spread of the virus. However, the World Health Organisation has questioned such measures. The head of the WHO stated that, ‘travel restrictions can
cause more harm than good by hindering info-sharing, medical supply chains and harming economies.’ The prime minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, announced his decision earlier this month. A statement read out from a student at the University of Sydney during protests against the new rule read: ‘We are strongly against the Australian government's unreasonable and unjust travel restriction.’ The University of Sydney has said they acknowledge the widespread concerns of students, yet they do not plan to delay the start date of the semester. Instead, the institution is proposing the use of online resources as a means to mitigate the material that affected students will miss.
Something’s Gone Bong with Old Joe John Wimperis News Editor
Old Joe is currently out of commision, with all four clock faces reading twelve o’clock. The North face has stood at this time since January, while the clock tower's East, South, and West faces all broke at the The North & West faces of Old Joe at 12:53pm on Saturday. (Photo: John Wimperis)
end of last week. All stood at shortly before five o’clock throughout the weekend. These faces were momentarily fixed at the start of the week with University of Birmingham Estates tweeting on Monday, ‘don’t mind [Old Joe] chiming all over the place this morning. The clock elves are in giving him some TLC and setting the time right.’ However, as of Wednesday morning, when Redbrick went to print, all four faces were again out of action, reading twelve
o’clock. Third year Classical Literature and Civilisation student Marcie Winstanley told Redbrick, 'I feel like Old Joe is like the heartbeat of the university, marking not just time but where students meet and make memories.' She continued, 'I hope they fix him properly for generations of students to come.' Redbrick Sport Editor John Rogers said that, ‘Old Joe bonged for about ten minutes on Wednesday, I thought “that can’t be right”.’
Friday 21st February 2020
Selection of the Referendum on ABUCU Teach-Outs Guild Democracy Overhaul Plans Tom Leaman Editor-in-Chief
Students will be able to vote on the Guild of Students’ democracy referendum from Monday 24th February to Friday 28th February. The referendum (which has three voting options - yes, no and abstain) will decide whether five key changes to the Guild’s democratic processes will be introduced. The referendum will be running at the same time as the 2020 officer team elections. There will be five key changes made to the Guild of Students if the motion passes. These are to introduce four new student-led committees covering key areas of University life; introduce an allstudent meeting and an all-student vote, introduce some flexible options so you can tell the Guild what you think when the answers
aren’t obvious, a scrutiny panel that will review the officer team and ensuring decisions happen more quickly, that they’re easier to understand and that processes are transparent. On Wednesday 12th February, a referendum briefing was held in the Guild of Students which helped inform students about the possible outcomes of the referendum. Members of the Guild’s current officer team have formed a YES campaign with the slogans ‘vote yes for change’ and ‘why bi*ch on Brumfess when you can vote yes for change?’ This includes the Joshua Williams, Ryan Ginger, Amanda Sefton, Joanne Park and Tobiloba Adeyemi. Currently, there is no official campaign encouraging students to vote no. In a statement posted on Facebook on February 10th, Guild President Williams said: ‘you’ve
said democracy isn’t working and we’ve proposed a new way of doing things here at the Guild. 'This new model allows for greater student input and ownership and more transparency about how decisions are and will be made. But now we need to know whether YOU want us to adopt this new model by voting in a referendum.’
“Why bi*ch on Brumfess when you can vote yes for change?” This democracy review follows changes made to the parttime officer team, which will be introduced for the upcoming officer team elections.
Exploding Meteor Goes Bang over Birmingham Joseph Meakin News Reporter
Sounding like something out of a H. G. Wells novel, an exploding meteor ignited the night sky over Birmingham late in the evening on Monday 3rd February. Thought by the National Space Centre to have been a bolide (a meteor that explodes when in the atmosphere), the spectacle was caught on CCTV cameras across the city. Bobby Tambling’s home CCTV captured the explosion at 11:34pm whilst the doorbell camera at the home of Jenny Charsley,
Got the Brits Aneesa Ahmed The 2020 Brit awards took place on Tuesday 18th February at the O2 in London. The likes of Stormzy, Lewis Capaldi, Billie Eilish and Tyler the Creator all took awards home. Stormzy, Dave, Billie Eilish and others also performed live at the Brit awards.
Adviser Resigns from Downing Street over Eugenics Comments Alex Boscott New No. 10 adviser Andrew Sabisky has resigned after comments of his were unearthed online. His 2014 comments talk about the presence of a ‘permanent underclass’ in society and called for enforced contraception to stop its creation. He also stated that ‘there are excellent reasons to think the very real racial differences in intelligence are signifi-
a Hollywood resident, also caught the event. Charsley, quoted in an article on Birmingham Live, explained how she had decided to check the doorbell for footage after seeing a report in the news. She said: ‘Luckily a car had just driven past, meaning our doorbell began a one minute recording and I saw the we had captured it.’ Gary Rogers’ camera also recorded the bolide. He had been in bed when his phone notified him of movement outside his house. Rogers told Derbyshire Live how he ‘thought it was a firework at first’ but noted the absence of the sound of an explocantly – even mostly – genetic in origin,’ suggesting that white people are more intelligent than other races. His comments raise questions about Downing Street’s vetting process, with Johnson already coming under mounting pressure from MPs to review the selection process for Cummings’ ‘weirdos and misfits’ in No. 10.
First New Neanderthal Skeleton Found in Ten Years Christina Manns
sion. Some of Rogers’ friends ‘said it looked like a meteor.’ A Royal Astronomical Society spokesperson, also in Birmingham Live, said that ‘From the picture it looks like a “fireball” – an unusually bright meteor – though that doesn’t mean anything reached the ground.’
“Fairly rare and spectacular sight” They described the event as a ‘fairly rare and spectacular sight’ and that ‘those witnessing it should consider themselves lucky.’
The following are a selection of the teach-outs Birmingham UCU plan to run during their four-week strike action Tuesday 25th February 12:30pm-2:00pm Discussion of the book Sexuality and Transsexuality under the European Convention on Human Rights (Hart 2019) by Damian Gonzalez-Salzberg with Damian Gonzalez-Salzberg, Natasa Mavronicola, and Mairead Enright Bristol Pear 1:30pm-3:30pm Student Strike Q&A: Why are we on strike? A chance to find out more and ask questions about the disputes. with BUCU Committee and members Council Chambers (room subject to change), Guild of Students
12:30pm-1:30pm How Should a University Be Run? with Tom Cutterham Bristol Pear 2:00pm-3:00pm Selly Oak Squatting Walking Tour: walking tour uncovering places and stories associated with the squatting movement in Selly Oak in the 1970s with Josh Allen Starting at Bristol Pear
12:30pm-1:30pm Feminist Legal Practice and Charisma (With UoB Artist-inResidence Kelly Large) with Mairead Enright Artefact Thursday 5th March 1:00pm-2:00pm The Writing's on the Wall: pop art and protest 1965-75 with Sophie Hatchwell Artefact The full schedule of BUCU teachouts can be found online at tinyurl.com/bucuteachouts. Guild of Students
Monday 2nd March 12:30pm-1:30pm Ravers Support Strikers' UOB Underground (DJing Soc) - a student DJ rave in solidarity with strikers with Reece Patrick Roberts Outside the Guild of Students
Tuesday 3rd March 3:00p.m.-4:00p.m. Emma Pomeroy told the BBC: ‘To have primary evidence of such quality from this famous Neanderthal site will allow us to use modern technologies to explore everything from ancient DNA to long-held questions about Neanderthal ways of death.’
Parthe-gone Marbles? John Wimperis
Britain may have to return the Parthenon Marbles, also known as the Elgin Marbles, if it wants a free trade deal with the EU. Greece ensured that the return of 'unlawfully removed cultural objects' was included in the EU's negotiating mandate. The legality of the marble's removal from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin, who was sent there only to document them, has been consistently contested by Greece.
The Redbrick News Team take a look at some striking news from the last fortnight this recent find. It is estimated that this skeleton is more than 70,000 years old and it has been taken to Cambridge University for further analysis. Dr
Wednesday 4th March
Wednesday 26th February
An Neanderthal skeleton with its bones still arranged in their original positions has been found in Shanidar Cave in Iraq. Previous excavations at Shanidar Cave in the 1950s and 1960s had led to the discovery of 10 Neanderthal remains but new remains had not been found for a decade before
Contemporary Theory Reading Group - Capitalist Non-Places with Niall Gallen, Josephine Lilley-Byrne, Ben Horn, and Arzu Bali Bristol Pear
© OpenStreetMap contributors
Caroline Flack Found Dead Rhiannon Wood Former Love Island presenter Caroline Flack has been found dead, aged 40, in her London flat. Her family confirmed that she died on the 15th February. In a statement, they said: ‘We would ask that the press respect the privacy of the family at this difficult time and we would ask they make no attempt to contact us and/or photograph us.’ Flack had a court hearing due on the 4th March after she was charged with assaulting her boyfriend with a lamp and police were called to her home in December. She had stepped down as Love Island host, being replaced by Laura Whitmore this winter season. Many celebrities have come forward to pay tribute to Flack, such as This Morning presenter Philip Schofield, who posted on instagram, writing: ‘You poor darling girl my heart is breaking #BeKind.’
Friday 21st February 2020
Understand Before You Comment: Rape Culture at UK Universities
Joking about sexual assault and harassment on social media pages like ‘Fab n Fresh’ feeds into a culture which silences victims, argues Abby Spreadborough Abby Spreadborough Comment Editor
What constitutes sexual assault is always being redefined. The current legal definition of sexual assault ‘is an act of physical, psychological and emotional violation in the form of a sexual act, inflicted on someone without their consent. It can involve forcing or manipulating someone to witness or participate in any sexual acts.’ This definition has been years in the making. Under 30 years ago marital rape was legal, upheld by a legal tome from 1822, in w h i c h Barrister J o h n F r ed e r ick Archbold wrote that a husband ‘cannot be guilty of a rape upon his wife.’ Just last month Netflix’s Sex Education tackled sexual assault with an episode in which Aimee-Lou Wood’s character is sexually assaulted on a bus but instinctively dismisses it before later confronting the assault surrounded by other female characters, all with their own sto-
ries of sexual assault and harassment. All their stories differ but are drawn together by a conscious change in behaviour, whether that was defiance or sustained anxiety. Television imitates life, the story line for the show was drawn from one of the writer’s personal experiences, an experience which cannot be dismissed although some may encourage us or even culturally condition us to. However, such dangerous dismissal or rather blatant trivialisation abounds on ‘Fab N Fresh,’ UoB’s facebook page used for everything from selling Fab tickets to warning others when someone is flashed on a street in Selly Oak. A p a t t e r n doesn’t only form in the consistent reports of harassment and sometimes assault, but in the comment sections of these posts. Recent posts have featured comments such as ‘no one likes your grey tracksuit stop flashing people’ and ‘told you to stop,’ accompanied by students tagging their friends. It is important to acknowledge that some commenters do speak with sense and support, asking victims to report harassment as soon as possible, to those students I say thank you. Nevertheless, the trivialising comments far outnumber those of concern and sympathy. Reports of sexual assault and harassment often appear on ‘Fab and Fresh’ in attempts to prevent others from experiencing the same dis-
“There are many other students who aren’t speaking out”
tress. Yet when individuals their peers, indicating that far choose to speak out, their expe- more than 14 cases likely exist. riences are diminished and used Underneath every report of sexas a spring-board for ual harassment and comedy. ‘MeToo’ assault on ‘Fab’ there clearly came and are many other stuwent for these dents who aren’t “1 in 4 students commenters, comspeaking out and pletely unregiswill not speak out report their sexual tered and unacif students conknowledged. The tinue to trivialise assault” fact that these cases of harassunthinking at best ment. Last year I (Brook Report) and malicious at spoke out about worst comments my own experiences have come to characwith sexual assault terise the discourse on after being spiked at a ‘Fab N Fresh’ deter others from Birmingham club. I can testify speaking out. Not only from first hand to the stigma, lack of speaking out on ‘Fab’ and closure and re-traumatisation potentially warning others, sav- which victims endure when ing them the distress that comes reporting their assault or harwith sexual harassment, but assment to both the university from speaking out in the event and the police. This sentiment that something more severe was echoed in the petition, ‘it is happens. a known secret, proven by the A protest earlier this aca- past experiences of other vicdemic year exemplifies this tims, that students who report point. In December 2019 a col- their assault to the University’s lection of shoes appeared out- ‘You Report, We Support’ team side on the Harding Law Library feel like they receive no resoluin the shadow of Old Joe accom- tion and no closure to their panied by a banner demanding experience of sexual assault.’ ‘UoB support sexual assault That echo was redoubled victims now.’ The protest was earlier this year after a student taken down shortly after it told her story to The Tab. She appeared adding ironic insult to claims she was raped in her stuinjury. The shoes present repre- dent house after a night out but sented the silent majority who that UoB failed to investigate as do not report their sexual the attack had taken place offassault, with the shoe’s removal campus. The alleged attacker students trying to speak out for was, however, a fellow student. the silent majority were them- Consequently, the university selves silenced. The protest led offered to send a letter to the to a petition calling on UoB to alleged attacker ‘take sexual assault seriously.’ reminding of the In the past five years there have student code of been 14 complaints relating to conduct. The sexual harassment and assault now graduate at UoB. A 2019 Brook report told The Tab found that only 1 in 4 students ‘the whole report their sexual assault and e x p e r i e n c e 53% of students had of dealing experienced unwanted with the sexual behaviour complaint is from almost as bad as the night itself.’ T h e University responded by saying: Our priority remains supporting the student concerned and ensuring that everyone is treated fairly and sensitively. The University gave careful consideration to the complaint, the serious nature of the allegations, and what action could be taken.' A student culture that trivialises sexual harassment and assault reported on forums like ‘Fab and Fresh’ directly feeds into a culture that fails to take sexual assault seriously on an institutional and societal level. This comes at a time when rape charges, prosecutions and convictions across England and Wales are at their lowest levels since 2009. Andrea Simon of the End Violence Against Women Coalition summed it up best, ‘the failure to prosecute Redbrick rape sends a clear message not
only about disregarding justice for survivors, but also signals to rapists that they are safe to continue offending, knowing the likelihood they will be held to account is miniscule.’ This applies to victims of harassment and assault too, with the Office of National Statistics estimating 668,000 offences amongst the population and only 5,832 offenders convicted. It is important to add that sexual assault and harassment is not a ‘women’s issue.’ It is everyone’s issue, particularly students. It can happen to anyone of any gender. The most high-profile rape conviction in our history was secured last year when Reynhard Sinaga was found guilty of 159 sex offences committed against young men. Sinaga was a mature student at the University of Manchester where he completed his MA, he remained in the city despite completing a PhD at the University of Leeds. Manchester is the latest in a long line of university cities to be blighted by sexual assault cases. In 2018 Warwick University made the headlines with its poorly handled group chat scandal. The so-called ‘lad’s chat’ included comments such as ‘rape the whole flat to teach them a lesson,’ leading one student to complain to the university. Five students were subsequently banned from the university, with bans ranging from a year long ban to a lifetime ban. Two students appealed against their 10 year bans meaning they were reduced to just a year, the public outrage that followed produced the ‘Shame on Y o u Wa r w i c k ’ hashtag. More recently the University of Cambridge followed suit with victims claiming they felt let down by a lack of systems in place to investigate and suspend alleged attackers. From 2014 to 2018 allegations made to the university increased by 65%. This is the context in which trivialising comments such as those on Fab and Fresh as well as those elsewhere in UK universities are made. A backdrop involving an institutional failure to address rape, sexual assault and harassment and a judicial failure to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes. Students must understand the context in which their comments are made, working to improve this context not through trivialisation but compassion. Students must do better because their fellow students deserve better.
“Sexual assault and harassment is not a ‘women’s issue,’ it is everyone's issue”
Friday 21st February 2020
Trad-Wives: Misogny Is it Too Late or Liberation? to Apologise? Comment Writer Danielle Murinas delves into the ‘trad-wife’ movement as women shun contemporary equality in favour of 1950s nostalgia Danielle Murinas Comment Writer
A new trend has recently come to light about a proportion of modern women who are willingly reverting to a 1950’s housewife lifestyle, calling themselves a ‘Trad Wife.’ These individuals are choosing to stay at home and dedicate themselves to domesticity whilst their husbands take on the traditional breadwinner role. The leading basis for this movement is a 1963 book The Fascinating Womanhood, arguing that the main aspirations for women are intrinsically tied to ultimate femininity. Despite the dated nature of this book, women today are still choosing to follow its conclusions. Instead of choosing a career they are devoting themselves to working on their domestic skills, using their femininity to manipulate men and to being a submissive spouse to their husbands. But despite being their choice, I feel as though this decision aligns itself towards misogynistic attitudes and is a step backwards from the fight for equal rights. By its very nature, attempting to be a 1950’s housewife is idealising a time that women were both legally and socially the inferior sex. So many things that we take for granted today were not legal for women alive in 1950’s Britain. Women could not open a bank account in their own name, requiring signed approval from a husband or father. This was despite women being central to the British workforce and earning their own money. Even an act as minor as buying a drink in a public house was illegal, with landl o r d s reserving the right to refuse service to an unaccompanied woman up until 1982. Patriarchal control was apparent in every corner of society, with control over women’s bodies with the lack of access to birth control and the criminality of terminations, and an unmarried woman who felt pregnant was an outcast from society. At the very heart of the Trad Wife trend lies a romanticising of a time in which misogyny was entrenched in society. The argument of submission also presents an idea of women being inferior to men, needing to bend to their will. Not only does the idea of being submis-
sive and simultaneously holding the upper hand through manipulating men sound paradoxical, but it presents the idea of women as being weak. After many years of fighting for equal rights, society now celebrates strong women; whose worth is measured on their intellect and their talent, rather than their position in a marital relationship. By crafting this concept of the ‘perfect’ wife, Trad Wives can be seen as contributing to a system which values women only as wives. Especially in the climate of movements such as MeToo we need to be sure to erase this message, and instead champion messages of the strength and capabilities of women. Of course, this is not saying that women should be unable to choose to stay at home with their children instead of having a job. That choice is a decision that should be a personal one, and if economic situations allow for this, then people should be able to do so without any judgement from society. If women opt in on their own accord to be domestic, as a role that they feel fulfilling, then we should also be able to support these chouces. But this can be done without resorting to a discourse which objectifies and subordinates women. It should also be a choice open to both parents. Not only is this trend misogynistic, but it emphasises the importance of a strictly het-
eronormative society, in which not only a woman’s position is set but so is a man’s. Both work and domestic roles should be interchangeable between both individuals, within either a heterosexual or a homosexual one. The choice of staying home and caring for children is a decision that should be open to both individuals. The Trad Wife trend reverts back to a system in which men need to be the ‘strong’ and ‘reliant’ one, abiding by traditional masculinity. This undermines work done to encourage men to allow themselves to be emotional and vulnerable, which must be continued. The Trad Wife trend highlights how there is still a discourse aorund domesticity and women that may be deemed misogynistic, but there is also plenty of room for a conversation about genderless paretning and women's place in work and n o t just the
home. I know I personally will not be opting into the Trad wife tradition. KarenArnold/pulicdomainpuctures.net
Christopher Hodges explores the trend of YouTubers giving flimsy apologies for big issues Christopher Hodges Comment Writer
‘What’s up guys, this is a really serious video, and in no way is this a joke – at all – this is 100% serious.’ These are the words of JayStation, or Jason Ethier, a popular YouTuber. In a close-up shot and framed by a white background, JayStation peppers his cadence with heavy sighs and mock-wistful pauses. For those accustomed to ‘YouTube drama,’ this remorseful routine is all too familiar. Jason’s girlfriend, Alexia Marano, died in a car accident last month. He made certain that his 5.49 million subscribers knew about it. He produced videos of himself grieving. He recorded himself visiting her memorial. He even attempted to reconnect with his lost love via Ouija board. It was truly a tragedy for the modern age. Yet, as if by a miracle, by some deus ex machina plot contrivance, the day was saved, and dear Alexia was alive. That miracle was of course the discovery of insidious lies. Amongst mounting suspicion and pressure from the online community, JayStation buckled, revealing in a formulaic apology video that Alexia’s death was in fact a hoax. However, the chief mourner’s grief did not subside. Instead, he grieved for himself. His relationship with Alexia had unsurprisingly imploded. Alexia’s claims that he assaulted her he dismissed as mere attempts to ‘ruin his life.’ In a woe-is-me breakdown that lasts for almost half an hour, Jay tugs on our heartstrings about his apparent history of incarceration and alcohol abuse, as if it is somehow related to his current predicament. How on Earth are we meant to trust anything he says? And this is precisely the problem: there is no trust, there is no scrutiny. YouTube is the wild west of modern entertainment, an ever-growing expanse of diverse media. But with such a wide scope, there is no room for genuine policing of content. Of course, YouTube employs policies that protect corporate interests. YouTubers face harsh penalties for videos that include a microsecond of copy-
righted content. There are also arbitrary consequences for uploading videos with profanity. We can’t have the legions of small children with iPads being excluded from giving YouTube that delicious ad revenue, can we? Outside of these banal restrictions, the actual subject, form, and style of content is entirely up to the content creator. This is music to the ugly ears of anyone inclined to create clickbait. Those without talent or dedication are committed to either finding or faking the most outrageous content possible. JayStation’s apology video only echoes the so many who have bawled before him. Logan Paul, multi-millionaire and professional numbskull, made international headlines two years ago when he recorded himself next to the hanging body of a man who had committed suicide in Japan’s Aokigahara forest. His exclamations at the time included ‘buckle the f*** up, because you’re never gonna see a video like this again!’ A few Tweets and a sobbing apology video later, and everything was fine. He had followed the standard routine of internet confession. Paul remains a king of YouTube stardom, and the fruits of his online scandal netted him 14.5 million dollars. But the depravity runs deeper. Logan Paul and his brother Jake are just the tip of the iceberg. How could we forget DaddyOFive, an uploader of prank videos that included his children? DaddyOFive netted a steady profit, until it was revealed that he was physically and emotionally abusing his children to provoke reactions that he could use in their videos. Or perhaps we could look at Athene, gaming-personality-turned-cultleader who runs a compound in the recesses of the German wilderness? Athene lets his followers live with him for free, though his female residents are allegedly exposed to sexual objectification and emotional manipulation. Whenever we think we’ve hit rock bottom, we venture deeper. If we are to be fooled by carefully crafted apology videos such as JayStation’s, then we consent to a moral race to the bottom. We let pass disgusting behaviour and excuse the inexcusable. YouTube won’t be doing anything about it anytime soon because it is profitable, and so it is up to us as individuals to ignore the hordes of fame-hungry clickbaiters. They seek to cheat their way to fame and fortune through the basest actions. It is up to us to not forgive them.
Friday 21st February 2020
Should He Have to ‘Come out’? In light of Phillip Schofield ‘coming out,’ Comment Writer Danielle Murinas examines what it means to ‘come out,’ arguing there is often too much emphasis on it Danielle Murinas Comment Writer
On the 7th of February This Morning presenter Phillip Schofield released a statement in which he come out as gay. Schofield has been married to wife Steph for twenty-seven years, with whom he has two children, and has discussed the guilt over the pain that his declaration would cause. But in an interview with friend and colleague Holly Willoughby, he praised their positive reaction, and talked of their pride at his bravery. Though most would disagree that such a positive reaction is a good thing in this circumstance, it leads onto the wider issue of the pressures and weight behind coming out. Even in today’s society there is still a large emphasis on ‘coming out.’ Thankfully, we live in a more accepting society today, in which homosexual people can get married and adopt on equal footing to their heterosexual counterparts. Despite this, society still expects people to have a defining moment in which they announce their non-straight sexual identity. It is still seen as a marker and a turning point, with a before and after. But this is only for those who are LGBTQ+,
with no necessity for heterosexuals to come out and announce their identity. This is reinforcing the difference and assumed assumption that queer people are the non-normative members of societies, and they are the ones who have to announce their difference. Entrenched within this is still an idea that if you do not choose to come out to people, then you are automatically embarrassed or ashamed of your sexuality. In the This Morning interview, presenter Eamon Holmes said ‘no one should be embarrassed of their sexuality.’ Though this is a fundamentally truthful statement, there is an underlying belief that not coming out equates to embarrassment. We should live in a society where everyone is able and comfortable enough to be true to themselves, but not making a grand statement should not encourage shame. In a truly accepting society non-heterosexual people should not need to announce their sexual orientation, but just be able to say that they are in love with someone without questions about their gender. Sadly, it seems we have not reached this point yet, with people still having to explain their sexuality. With a necessity for coming
out, there is also an increasing anxiety. Having to announce sexuality means people are still open to judgement. Despite being a seemingly liberating experience, coming out still leaves people in a vulnerable situation. There is no controlling how people will react, which can cause great fear and anxiety in people who have to go through it. Anxiety can come from not knowing people’s reaction or the pressure of having to get the right. As it is still such a defining moment, there is a worry of getting it wrong. This could be coming out at the wrong time, to the wrong person or simply saying the wrong words. This adds unnecessary pressure onto people, which may already be a difficult situation. Finally, having to come out and identify yourself with a particular sexuality reinforces binary labels, that may not truly reflect your identity. If someone feels they are not straight they may use terms such as lesbian or bisexual as a way to explain why they are dating someone of their own sex. But this label may change as they may not have entirely come to terms with a sexuality that is comfortable for them. Some individuals such as Schofield may wait a
long time before coming outbut others, like myself, will want to tell people as soon as they have accepted it. This may lead to people using labels which they may find ill-fitting. People may use the term bisexual or gay, and thenlater change their minds. This has encouraged people to label bisexuality as a phase, and undermine its legitimacy as a sexual orientation. I am not saying that bisexuality does not exist, simply that the pressure of having to come out could encourage people to use
labels that may not be truthful to them. Though Schofield’s public admission of his sexuality is providing positive representation on television, it does lead into the wider question of the negativity of society which puts too much emphasis on coming out. Hopefully, we will reach a point where people do not need to come out and sexuality is accepted in whatever form. But it seems we are not there yet.
Horrible Histories Controversy Britain’s colonial past must be laid bare not ignored post-Brexit, argues Sam Wait Sam Wait Comment Writer
Featured on the homepage of CBBC website on Brexit day was a Horrible Histories special highlighting the day’s significance. The video, a mash-up of Horrible Histories songs presented by Nish Kumar, caused so much controversy that the political broadcaster Andrew Neil claimed the BBC was promoting ‘anti-British drivel.’Kumar, the acclaimed comedian, presents in his signature sarcastic tone as he remarks that despite the *cough* ‘smooth ride’ to Brexit ‘we’d look back at what Europe’s done for us anyway.’ The video features songs which reference French, Italian and German history that has influenced Britain over the years. Andrew Neil found a song entitled ‘British Things’ created back in 2009 most offensive. Despite its dated nature, the clips resurfacing in the climate of a politically divided Britain meant viewers, among them Piers Morgan as well as Neil, have condemned the BBC for promoting ‘antiBritish’ ideals. However, the songs infuriating nature stems only from its factual accuracy. ‘British Things’ details how many items
commonly thought to be from Britain are not British at all. The song corrects the notion of ‘British tea’ which is actually from India. Similarly, the lyrics enlighten the viewer that ‘British’ cotton was picked by American slaves. A line which would have been particularly troubling for those hell-bent on ‘taking back control’ of Britain would be: ‘your British things are from abroad and most are frankly stolen.’ These historical facts are as accurate now as they were in 2009; Horrible Histories’ comedic song highlights that through Britain’s imperialism we actually benefitted from the slave trade. And that, despite preconceptions, very little is innately ‘British’ after all. Despite this factual accuracy, Andrew Neil was outraged by the clip: ‘This is anti-British drivel of a high order. Was any of the licence fee used to produce something purely designed to demean us?’ The problem with Andrew Neil’s statement is that he is negating the accuracy of the facts proposed in the video. It is not trying to ‘demean us’ as a nation. Rather, its aim is to remind us that despite venturing out of the European Union, we are not decisively ‘on our own’ and never could be – we have always and still will
rely on trade from other countries. Hence, it is not anti-British to speak factually of your country’s history. Neil’s comment disturbingly implicates to be ‘pro-British’ would be to do the opposite, by either ignoring our inglorious past or by just covering the good bits. This would only serve to pacify CBBC’s young audience with a seemingly perfect Britain.
“The answer is not to placate children with Britain’s less gritty history, but rather to present them with the facts” Therefore, this unflattering representation is necessary. As Tim Haughton writes, the Leave slogan in the Brexit referendum, ‘Take Back Control’ ‘suggested a sense of rightful ownership’ to British people. This displaced the issues surrounding what is not working properly in society today, such as the struggling NHS and lack of
funding in education. Instead, ‘foreigners became the convenient scapegoat of the referendum campaign.’ This was most blatant in Nigel Farage’s antimigrant poster during the Leave campaign – where a photo of refugees was superimposed with text that read ‘break free from the EU.’ Campaigning such as this has been argued to have incited racial hatred. Statistically, hate crime towards ethnic minorities has increased from 58% to 71% since the referendum. Therefore, it is even more important that children do not inherit this prejudice from the scapegoating in British media. Exclusions for racism in English primary schools are already up more than 40% in the last decade. This cannot continue. And the answer is not to placate children with Britain’s less gritty history, but rather to present them with the facts. By highlighting Britain’s multicultural background, we can vanquish blind nationalism, which is being used as a ‘vehicle of discontent’ within society, as columnist Patrick Cockburn argued following the election in 2019. Despite viewer’s concerns that children are being indoctrinated with this ‘anti-British drivel’ this is simply not the case. In fact, children are sim-
ply being provided with the facts. It is incredibly important for young children to witness this in a climate of rising racism and xenophobia. Michael Hand argues that we should ‘challenge children’s simplistic moral beliefs.’ Hand writes that in children’s media ‘the basic division of people into heroes and villains is hard to get away from.’ Hence, the divided nation of Brexit Britain means children are in danger of being influenced by the prejudice ideologies which are currently pervading British culture. Without challenging this mindset there is a danger that children could simplistically associate British with ‘good’ and anything nonBritish with ‘bad.’ We should be challenging this reductive worldview by giving children the accurate information to make up their minds for themselves. If ‘pro-British’ means avoiding Britain’s imperial past, and only focusing on our inoffensive history, this is a fallacious and morally wrong. It does not give children a critical or progressive way of viewing the culture they are being brought up in. As George Santayana famously said, ‘those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.’
Friday 21st February 2020
Poll of the Week: HS2
As the government give HS2 the go-ahead, we asked readers whether they support the controversial rail link developments Emily Chapman
Do You Think HS2 a Good Idea?
"Faster travel is always better"
“The funding could be much better used not investing into currently deprived areas of the train service in the UK, such as Northern Rail”
“Britain’s railways are in dire need of investment, and quite frankly the journey times between major cities is generally slower than when travelling by car”
(Poll conducted on
“It's taken forever and the money could be better spent elsewhere”
“Why should the countryside be torn up for the construction of something that will only benefit cities?”
Take part in our polls:
Redbrick Comment Contributors
Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the plans to build a high-speed railway to connect Manchester and London would go ahead, despite backlash against the project. We asked students what they thought of the proposed plans, and whether they agreed with the PM that they should go ahead. The vote was split: most students were conflicted between the potential for improved links between cities in the North and the South, and their concern for the people whose homes are at risk because of the developments. A number of students who voted ‘No,’ felt that the money could be put to better use improving train services and infrastructure that is already in place: ‘The current railways are terrible, trains always late and with insufficient capacity, very expensive and in rural areas like mine there is so little access to major cities. The time, effort and money could be better put to use improving what we have.’ Equally, many respondents pointed out not just the initial production cost, but the likely higher prices of tickets via HS2 make the project not-worthwhile, suggesting the likelihood
of a significant fare increase between Birmingham and London is not worth the 20-minute difference between the journey via HS2 versus the existing services. Meanwhile, some respondents suggested that because the current services are so poor, we need HS2 now more than ever: ‘a high speed line is strategic for the country’s development, will bring Britain up to speed with the rest of Europe.’ Some suggested that the outdated services currently in operation cannot provide the facilities required with so many people travelling by train. The project proposes improved connections between Manchester, Leeds and London (via Birmingham) which are aiming to bridge the North/South divide, allowing people greater access to the capital city for commuters and travellers. A number of respondents also noted the number of jobs the project would create, while others lamented the likelihood of increased housing prices in areas currently more affordable to young people. Either way, it seems that HS2 will remain a contentious issue throughout its development.
Boris Johnson’s Climate Confusion Comment Writer Sophie Utteridge urges the PM to take the climate crisis seriously following his admission of ignorance Sophie Utteridge Comment Writer
Once again, our Prime Minister has broken a promise. You may not be surprised by this as, after all, this isn’t the first time and it probably won’t be the last. But this time, despite the promises he has made to fight climate change, the evidence is loud and clear of his failings. In a recent interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the former President of COP26 (that’s the United Nations 26th Climate Change Conference) Claire O’Neill claimed that Boris Johnson had admitted to her that he ‘doesn’t really get’ climate change. As the leader of a country who has promised to cut down to carbon zero by 2050, this doesn’t bode well for our chances of actually succeeding. Lately, many reports have been published about what the UK is actually doing to help cut carbon emissions down and ultimately reduce the rate of global warming. We’ve brought forward the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles to 2035 rather than the original deadline of 2040. We’ve also
announced the closing of all coal-fired power stations by 2025, cutting down on our emissions even further. And we’re making plans to make all households self-sustaining, thus promoting the use of solar panels, LED lights and electric cars. These things are all well and good, and may I add extremely possible with our current advancements in technology, but with a Prime Minister, and a government, who seems to be lacking in any kind of coherent policy that doesn’t scream ‘BREXIT, BREXIT, BREXIT!’ how can we even hope to make the targets set for us in time?
“How many promises are simply a publicity stunt?” O’Neill told the BBC that the UK is ‘miles off track globally where we are meant to be,’ and claims that this is all down to the ‘huge lack of leadership and engagement’ from the Prime Minister and the government. Her claims are not
without evidence. In the January UK-Africa Summit in London, Boris Johnson made promises to stop all UK investment in African coal, helping us on our way to closing all our coal-fired power stations. However, what he failed to mention was that the UK will still be investing almost £2 billion in oil and gas from countries in Africa, completely defeating the purpose of the promise to cut down to carbon-zero. The senior cabinet minister Michael Gove leapt to Boris Johnson’s defence, telling BBC Radio 5 Live that the Prime Minister sees himself as a ‘green Tory.’ He claimed that the government and the Prime Minister are committed to meet the targets set, and are urging other countries to do the same and follow in the UK’s footsteps. But one has to wonder how many promises the government has made only to quieten the increasingly loud voices of climate change activists. Many, like O’Neill, are led to believe that those working around the Prime Minister are the real ones trying to fight global warming, and that Johnson is purely going along with it despite his lack of interest or
understanding. It makes you question how many promises are simply a publicity stunt? O’Neill clearly believes that they are. ‘My advice to anybody to whom Boris is making promises to get it in writing, get a lawyer to look at it and make sure the money's in the bank,’ she told listeners on BBC Radio 4. That’s a pretty strong statement to make, especially when the Prime Minister is going to be one of the main figures in this year’s climate summit.
“He must stick to his promises and take action against the biggest threat to our planet” Now of course, these allegations against Boris Johnson have come out immediately after O’Neill was sacked from her position as President of the summit. It would be reasonable to conclude that she is angry, and rightly so. However, what she is saying has to hold some
element of truth. Number 10 has not made a statement in response to the interview with O’Neill but the message from most cabinet ministers is that Boris is committed to making the Earth a better place. It seems a rather weak statement, and attacks are continuing as the summit date draws near and we are no closer to any kind of plan of action. It is a big ask to come up with a plan to fight climate change. Many have tried, and many have failed, but many have also made breakthroughs. It isn’t impossible, and it shouldn’t be treated that way either. As harsh as it sounds, Boris Johnson needs to take some responsibility over one of the most important events of the year. This time, he must stick by his promises and take action against the biggest threat to our planet. If he doesn’t, if we continue as we are, we could be looking at a potential catastrophe. Climate change cannot simply be used as a tool to convince voters and MPs to take sides. It’s a matter that concerns us all, no matter if you’re Tory, Labour, Green or anything else. And if you don’t believe that, we might as well give up now.
Friday 21st Fenruary 2020
Guild Elections: Interviews with your
Redbrick Elections Editor Aneesa Ahmed interviews the candidates
Four of the six candidates for the Guild presidency were interviewed on Saturday, 8th February. The two other candidates, Divine Etiaba and Zhuoxin Luo, are also running to be President of the Guild of Students but did not respond when contacted by Redbrick for an interview. Each candidate is listed alphabetically by surname.
39,000 students with one voice but it’s another thing to allow decision making to be open and transparent. It’s important for people to know that things are happening like this. Transparency is very important, making sure that processes are straight forward to understand is key. As I am a politics student, I understand the importance of simplifying things.’
“It would be up to me to take those bits and pieces and expand on them”
Tobi Adeyemi The current Postgraduate Officer, Tobi Adeyemi, told Redbrick that her vibrancy and resilience makes her the best candidate to be the next Guild President. Adeyemi said that it ‘takes a lot to bring her down’ and that she has some transformative plans she wants to put in place if she gets elected. ‘What you see is what you get. I believe that there are a lot of voices that need representing at this university. I want to make everyone’s university experience better.’
Adeyemi also emphasised the importance of the President in listening to the ideas of the other officers and being a team player. She outlined how her experience as the Guild's Postgraduate Officer this year has shown her the importance of opening conversations. She told Redbrick: ‘Every officer is doing their best. Everything that they set out to do is being done, it would be up to me to take those bits and pieces and expand on them as it’s about picking up previous conversations.' Inclusivity within the University and Guild matters a lot to Adeyemi due to her own personal experience with the Guild. Prior to becoming a UoB postgraduate student, she did her undergraduate degree in Nigeria. When coming to UoB, she highlighted how it was the events and functions that were put on at the Guild that made her feel most welcome to the UoB and UK student community. She said that this experience during her postgraduate year at UoB has made her determined to improve the student experience of other students within the University.
“It’s one thing to represent 39,000 “I found a students with one community that voice but it’s made me feel like I another to allow belong here” decision making to ‘I remember coming to UoB and feeling very alone. I had a big be open and culture shock as everything is different, even the people are differtransparent” ent. I heard from a friend that Adeyemi’s campaign is heavily focussed around diversity and inclusivity as she said that ‘there are around 39,000 students at this University, each one completely different.’ One of the points on her manifesto is to ‘make sure welfare services are inclusive.’ This is an important issue to Adeyemi because she believes that the current welfare system lacks the intersectionality needed to cater for the diverse needs of students. Another point on her manifesto is making sure that students have confidence in the Guild of Students' processes and that it is transparent to drive student engagement. To her, transparency is key because otherwise there would be no trust in the system. ‘It’s one thing to represent
there was an event at the Guild, so I went along, and at that event I found a community that finally made me feel like I belong here.’ Adeyemi told Redbrick that people should vote for her because she is about words and actions. ‘I’m not just about words, I’m also about action. Every project I have and every project I handle, I always make sure an action comes out of it. I am prepared to be held accountable for everything stated on my manifesto. 'I want students to make the most of student life. I paid a lot to be here, so I should get value for my money, and so should everyone else.’
a separation between students on each campus, and by having more integration it would better the student experience for students on both campuses.
Sahar Anwar Sahar Anwar is a final-year Anthropology and Political Science student who believes that she is the best candidate to be the next Guild President. She highlighted that a lot of people have promised representation, but there needs to be someone who identifies as a minority to make these changes.
“Our voices are being heard, but there is more work to be done” She believes that her unique experiences as a Muslim woman of colour makes her the best candidate as she can offer different perspectives. She is branding her campaign with the hashtag #ImWithHer. Representation of diversity is crucial to Anwar. She told Redbrick: ‘much of the student body is female and there are a significant number of minorities on campus. On a campus of 39,000, as women, our voices are being heard but there is more work to be done.’ One of her key manifesto points is to make the University more careers oriented. She thinks that there should more companylinked education so that students who don’t want to go into academia are more aware of their options after University. She believes that there is currently too much focus on academic career options and not enough focus on industry career options. ‘I think that more internship schemes and extending the careers network would be highly beneficial to students.’
“Another key point on her manifesto is to increase cohesion between the Medical School campus and the main campus” Another key point on her manifesto is to increase cohesion between the Medical School campus and the main campus. She highlighted how there is currently
“Not everyone can afford to buy all the mandatory texts themselves”
Guild so far would make her the best candidate. ‘I’m so passionate about education, representation and remote access. My active engagement with student activities so far means I know a lot about the Guild and how it works. I would argue that it doesn’t matter how much Guild experience you have, but about your mindset.’
She also says that more environmental policies within the Guild is something that she wants to push for. She told Redbrick that declaring a climate emergency was one of her plans originally, but since the Guild have recently announced that they are doing that, she wants to expand on this. Access to resources is another key issue that she wants to tackle if she were to be elected. She highlights that, while the library has a fantastic array of resources, sometimes the number of copies available or a lack of online resources makes some key readings inaccessible to a lot of people. ‘Not everyone can afford to buy all the mandatory texts themselves. I think the Guild should be working more closely with the University and library services to convey the needs of students and the resources that they need access to.’
“I want to be someone that everyone can go to” Anwar referenced previous Guild President Ellie Keiller as someone who she admired. ‘Ellie was a friendly face; I want to be like that. I want to be someone that everyone can feel like they can go to. Reece [Patrick Roberts] was very good with his online presence, that is something that I want to be able to continue.’ She finished by telling Redbrick that she would be a good fresh face and a valuable addition to the Guild's officer team. She outlined how she was part of the equality and diversity committee for POLSIS department in her second year where she worked with lecturers to deconstruct the curriculum. She has also been involved with the Islamic Society and was a member of the committee. She explained how the other roles she has taken at the University and the
Cooper (Emperor Palptatine) Louis Cooper, who is running for President under his character name ‘Emperor Palpatine,’ urges
Friday 21st February 2020
Presidential Candidates for 2020
running for President ahead of the 2020 Guild Elections
students to give him their vote because he wants to ‘make the empire great again.’ He told Redbrick that students will be able to relate to him as he ‘loves Roosters’ and that his favourite order is number four. Emperor Palpatine believes that he is the strongest candidate as he has spent '30 years running a galactic empire’ which has given him strong leadership experience. He told Redbrick, ‘A student union is easier to
manage than a galaxy. I think I'd be able to successfully run as Guild President.’ ‘I am the best candidate for this job. I have survived being killed once, and I keep on going. I believe in persistence.’
radical changes to how safety around the area is handled, including using 50% of Guild funds to build a new death stars ‘for protection,’ using stormtroopers to patrol Selly Oak at night time to ensure safety and introducing a mandatory curfew of 11pm in Selly Oak.
“I will use the dark force against the University if they don’t divest from fossil fuels ” Emperor Palpatine also proposes to make changes to the University and how it is run, firstly by proposing to rename the university to ‘Imperial Academy’ and introducing mandatory lightsabre ban. Palpatine also proposes that the University offers a new dark side of the force studies program. He also claimed that he will ‘use the dark force’ against the University if they don’t divest from fossil fuels and ban single use plastics on campus, as he states that environmental issues are very important to him and for young people. Transparency is very important to Emperor Palpatine as he told Redbrick that if he were to be elected, he will ‘follow through’ with all of his pledges. ‘I want people to know that their Guild President is a Sith Lord, that is no secret. If I am elected, I will follow through with everything that I have pledged.’ He finished by stating that his main goal is to ‘actually lobby the University for change’ and to not just accept things as they are. ‘If they don’t agree with me, I will crush them using all the power of the dark side of the force.’
plans to retain and improve on existing changes made by the Guild in recent years, such as the continuation of diversification within the Guild, continuation of outreach programs and improving initiatives like the Selly Wardens. He highlighted how he feels that some students don’t trust current systems put in by the university and the police, so improving on services such as the Selly Wardens and the Selly Express will be highly beneficial for students.
“The more people PhotoSoc you talk to, the Owen Shann more you realise that there are so Second-year history student Owen Shann believes that he is the best many issues that candidate to be the next Guild president as ‘there are a lot of are unaddressed things that need changing.’ Speaking to Redbrick, Owen Shann outlined how he feels that because they think there is a lot of change to be made that it's and he wants to represent the people. He said he has spoken to lots unimportant. of students at this University who told him that there are ‘lots of There’s a lack of issues that need resolving.’ belief in the system and I want to “I want to push for change that” positive change. People need Shann stated that transparency representation so I will be ‘at the heart’ of everything does and claims that it is cruwant to do that” he cial for organisations such as the ‘I want to push for positive change. People need representation so I want to do that.’ He outlined that he wanted to focus his campaign around democratisation of ‘not just the Guild but also of the University.’ Shann has outlined that a lot of his proposed ideas will be a radical change for the Guild and the university, but it is something that he deems essential. Some ideas that he proposes include declaring a climate emergency on campus, shutting down the Dubai campus and removing David Eastwood.
“Some students don't trust current systems put in by “There is currently the University and a disharmony “A student union the police, so beween students is easier to manage improving on and residents in than a galaxy. I services will be the area” think I’d be able to highly beneficial” successfully run as His campaign is based heavily around security as he institutions have some Guild President. I kind‘Most outlined that he believes that of election or democratic security around campus and process in choosing their leaderam the best Selly Oak is one of the biggest ship. This University is bigger issues that students face as candidate for this than lots of small countries and if there is currently a ‘disharmony they have full democratic procin the force’ between students job” esses, I believe that this university and residents in the area. He proposes to make some
should too.’ He also told Redbrick that he
Guild and institutions like the university to be completely transparent with its students, staff and members. ‘We can’t have a student body which is engaged without them knowing what’s happening behind the scenes, transparency is crucial to creating a better community, revealing the failures as well as good things is important. You can’t have all the bad stuff hidden because otherwise people cannot trust you.’ Shann has been highly involved with university and Guild life throughout his two years at university so far and has held positions such as Student Rep and Social Sec for Karate Society. He has also started two societies, Climate Action UoB and Marxist Society and has been on committee for both. He believes that his active involvement with university and student life, as well as the campaigning work he does alongside his studies, makes him the ideal candidate for this role. He ended by saying that it is the people he meets and the stories that they tell him which has motivated him to run for this role. ‘I’ve been quite active in talking to people, the more people you talk to, the more you realise that there are so many issues that are unaddressed because they think it's unimportant. There’s a current lack of belief in the system, and I want to change that. I want to bring change on campus and want to give people more influence by taking back control.’
Interviews with every candidate will be available on the Redbrick website Activities and Employability Officer: Interviewed by David Atkins, News Reporter Education Officer: Interviewed by Becky Gelder, News Reporter International Officer: Interviewed by Rhiannon Wood, News Editor; John Wimperis, News Editor and Charlie Young, News Reporter Postgraduate Officer: Interviewed by Adam Toms, News Reporter Sports Officer: Interviewed by Charlie Young, News Reporter Welfare Officer:
Interviewed by Amy Lakin, News Reporter and Cassandra Green, News Reporter LGBT Officer: Interviewed by David Atkins, News Reporter Women's Officer: Interviewed by Ella Kipling, News Reporter Disabled Students Officer: Interviewed by Cerys Gardner, News Reporter Ethnic Minorities Officer: Interviewed by Katie Porteous, News Reporter Trans Officer: Interviewed by Cerys Gardner, News Reporter Ethical and Environmental Officer: Interviewed by Rebecca Hall, Social Secretary Campaigns Officer: Interviewed by Ella Kipling, News Reporter Key Guild Election Dates: Monday 24th February: Campaigning and voting begins across campus and online Friday 28th February: Campaigning ends and voting closes Saturday 29th February: Votes are counted by Guild of Students. You can keep up to date with this through the Redbrick liveblog
Friday 21st February 2020
Carnival RAG Week Returns Today marks the start of the biggest day in Carnival RAG’s calendar. Here is everything you can expect from RAG Week 2020 Tom Leaman Editor-in-Chief
Carnival RAG, the largest student-run fundraising society at the University of Birmingham, will be hosting a week of events dedicated to raising money and awareness for their 2019-20 charities: Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, Student Minds and Birmingham Nightline. RAG Week starts today and will run until Friday 28th February.
“The largest student-run fundraising society” Many of their events will be held in collaboration with other UoB societies. Proceedings will kick off this evening at the Indie Lounge in Selly Oak for Acafusion, which is being hosted with A Cappella Birmingham.
On Monday 24th, Carnival RAG are hosting a charity yoga class alongside the Yoga Society, which can be pre-booked via the UoBYoga app. Other events throughout the week will include a blind date with a book charity sale at the pod in the Guild of Students, allowing students to take a break from their studies and immerse themselves in a book they may not have considered reading before. There will also a #HeadsTogether Sports Night takeover taking place on Wednesday night at the Guild of Students in aid of Mind, where Carnival RAG will partner with 20 sports clubs with the aim of changing the conversation surrounding mental health. Sports teams will be incorporatingheadwear into their fancy-dress theme for the week and contributing towards Carnival RAG’s donation to Mind, one of the Heads Together charities. On Friday 28th, there will be a marrow donor drive in partnership with Birmingham Marrow, which creates a network of stem cell matches for-
Emma Sherry Co-Head of Music (External) @Burn_FM
On Monday 10th February, Burn Live returned to The Indie Lounge for the second time this year. With a line-up of five acts, and broadcast live, we hosted Demelza, Midge, Vee, LEV and Char Stape for a night of live music. Although we ran fashionably late, our wonderful audience stayed with our incredible performers, dancing until the end. In recognition of Go Green Week, we made every effort to keep the night eco-friendly. Having retired flyers in favour of social media posts, and including a reusable coffee cup in our raffle, we invited Plastic-Free UOB as our guest speaker. The new group, who are committed to a plastic free future, were represented by Katie Unnithan who spoke exceptionally well about the society’s ambitions, encouraging the audience to consider their environmental impact.
transplants, helping fight diseases such as leukaemia.
“Carnival RAG will partner with 20 sports clubs with the aim of changing the conversation surrounding mental health” There will also be events running throughout RAG week to raise awareness of Birmingham Nightline and Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid. As part of their suicide awareness campaign, Carnival RAG are aiming to take photographs of 730 people to represent the number of people under 25 who committed suicide in the UK in 2018. The fundraiser will raise awareness of these statistics and tackle the stigma surrounding
Opening the evening was Burn FM’s very own, (and my Co-Head of Music) Char Stape, with her debut public performance. With her afrobeats mix, Char warmed the crowd perfectly, blowing everyone away. Vee took the stage next with his soulful rock, building a rapport with the audience that left the crowd wanting more. The passion Vee has for his music is clear throughout his live performance and quickly transcended itself onto the audience. Following this, Midge brought an unbelievable performance with a set that was gloriously intimate, and majestic. The band’s captivating set included fan favourite, ‘Treehouse’, their debut single released via New Street Records. Closing their set with a feel good cover of Whitney Houston’s classic, ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody,’ simply forced the audience to sing along. Our headliners, Demelza, brought their A game with a polished set, including an on-stage jam. The vocals of lead singer, Cherry Halfyard, were complimented beautifully by the instrumentation the rest of the band provided. Despite this being the band’s debut headline set, they proved themselves to be the perfect choice and certainly established themselves as ones to watch. Closing the evening was another of Burn FM’s own, LEV, with her funky DJ set to help the audience dance the rest of the night away. Having now played three Burn Lives, LEV’s set delivered as always with soul and disco at the heart of her fantastic set. Finally, I would like to say thank you very much to our wonderful acts, our incredible audience, the amazing Indie Lounge, Plastic-Free UOB, and the Burn FM Committee for making this night possible.
suicide and suicidal thoughts. To collect donations for Birmingham and Solihull Wo m e n ’s Aid, a donations box will be placed in the Guild reception for the duration of RAG week. Personal care items will be welcome donations, including toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, toilet roll and shower gel. Speaking to Redbrick, RAG week coordinators Rhiannon Moss and Jessica Day said: ‘This year, there are more ways than ever to get involved with RAG Week. You can donate money or items, attend a yoga class or an a cappella showcase, take a photo or sign up to the stem cell donor register. Every contribution matters and helps raise awareness of the causes
we are supporting. ‘If you would like to get involved with any of the events throughout the week or would like further information, please check out our Facebook event or email us at email@example.com.’ www.carnivalrag.com
RAG Week 2020 Acafusion with A Cappella Birmingham The Indie Lounge Friday 21st February, 7:30pm
Charity Yoga Class with Yoga Society Monday 24th February. Please see the UoBYoga app for more details and to book.
Blind Date with a Book The Pod, Guild of Students Wednesday 26th February, 10-4pm
#HeadsTogether Sports Night Takeover Guild of Students Wednesday 26th February, Midnight
Birmingham Marrow Donor Drive Chemincal Engineering Atrium Friday 28th February, 12-4pm facebook.com/carnivalrag/
Friday 21st February 2020
Mind+Solve Sudoku (Easy)
1 7 2
5 Issue 1515 Puzzles compiled by Natalia Carter
8 1 Across 2. Unwiling and hesitant; disinclined (9) 3. Common, typical (8) 6. Hollywood walk of fame symbol (4) 10. Make available for use, supply (7) 12a. A seemingly absurd or contradictory statement or proposition (7) 13. A periodical publication containing articles and illustrations (8) 14. Pre-arranged meeting (11) 16. Lasting for a limited time (9)
Down 1. To make broader (5) 4. The action of giving a misleading account or impression (10) 5. Firm belief in someone (5) 7. Lacking width (6) 8. Agricultural crop (5) 9. New possession (11) 11. A hoofed grazing or browsing animal with antlers (4) 12b. A state in which one is not observed or disturbed by others (7) 15. Position of duty (4)
3 1 7
songs and films. All you have to do is tell us which novels, songs or films the lines come from. 12
‘Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort’ ‘We built sandcastles that washed away / I made you cry when I walked away / Oh, although I promised that I couldn't stay, baby / Every promise don't work out that way’
Anagrams 1. HELEN STRAND 2. LIZARD NEWTS 3. ORAN AIM 4. RAKE UNI
‘The sky above was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel’
Now that the UK has left the EU, can you unscramble the names of these European countries?
The Redbrick Crossword
First Lines The premise of First Lines is simple: each issue, we supply a selection of opening sentences from various novels,
13 15 14
5. BIG AURAL 6. GUMBO LUREX 7. ETON MORGEN 8. ACTIVITY CAN 9. CELESTINE HINT 10. ALTAR BRIG
LAST ISSUE’S ANSWERS | Crossword: 1. Reconcile; 2. Elegant; 3. Absorption; 4. Reserve; 5. Provision; 6. Discriminate; 7. Seminar; 8. Solid; 9. Discovery; 10. Format; 11. Hypothesis; 12. Community; 13. Mislead; 14. Bait; 15. Deter; 16. Appoint | First Lines: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams); Ratatouille; 'Pumped Up Kicks' (Foster the People) | Anagrams: 1. Balloons; 2. Box of Chocolates ; 3. Valentines Day; 4. Flowers; 5. Galentines; 6. Romantic; 7. Courtship; 8. Secret Admirer; 9. Love Hearts; 10. Candle Light Get in touch with Redbrick Mind&Solve by sending all answers, applications and queries to firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday 21st February 2020
Fixing Our Focus on Fairtrade Fairtrade Fortnight is soon approaching and Food&Drink have created a guide to Fairtrade which makes doing the right thing more accessible to students Gabrielle TaylorDowson Food&Drink Editor
The first thing that comes to mind when someone says Fairtrade is, for me, a banana. I have distinct memories of being in primary school, watching yearly presentations about Fairtrade, and the presenter always using a banana as an example (most likely because a room of under elevens were most familiar with the fruit.) This impression is mirrored in the poll Food&Drink conducted, where 37% of people cited bananas as the first product that comes to mind when they thought of Fairtrade. For most of our parents, if you bought a bunch of bananas in the 1980s, all you knew was what they cost. Whether they were organic, or where they came from, and if the people that grew them were being paid fairly, were not a concern.
“It appears that Fairtrade's presence in supermarkets has greatly diminished” Maybe it’s because I am no longer receiving a yearly assembly on the matter, but it appears that Fairtrade’s presence in supermarkets has greatly diminished. The poll echoes this, with 75% of people saying they do not consciously shop for products with
the Fairtrade logo, or with the general concept of fair trade in mind. The main reasons for this, taken from the polls options, were a need for a better understanding of Fairtrade on workers and farmers, and a desire for more promotions and special offers on Fairtrade products to incentivise buyers to make purchases. Fairtrade International was formed in 1997, founded on the belief that consumers could make the marketplace more moral. Perhaps this aim has come to fruition, as 66% of people who said that they did shop for Fairtrade in the poll did s o
from these members. The third point is the customer who can be encouraged to buy Fairtrade products even if they cost more. The Fairtrade certification mark has become widely familiar and is an easy way for shoppers to spot what products they should be buying. When Fairtrade began, labels like theirs were rare; when you bought a product with its stamp, you knew what it meant. In contrast, a company today can make its own certification logo. Most shoppers will not know what that logo guarantees, but nonetheless it
Do you consciously shop for Fairtrade products? because salves they contheir sider themc o n selves ethisciences cally conbecause if it Food&Drink Poll scious shoppers. i m p l i e s If companies pay Fairtrade, then it farmers fairly, other must be as good as the benefits can cascade. Farmers original? can hire adult workers, rather than Sainsbury’s is one of those children; they can give these chil- companies that has moved away dren an education, buy medicines, from the original Fairtrade certifiplus plenty more. cation. Sainsbury’s boasts on its Thus, Fairtrade works by website that it is the world’s largforming a triangle of ethical busi- est retailer of Fairtrade products, ness. It recruits farmers and farms, and because Sainsbury’s is so asking them to meet its standards. important for Fairtrade, the comAt the other tip of the triangle, pany’s move could lead to lower Fairtrade enlists companies to pay social and labour standards, more a minimum price for products hardship in developing countries
and deep confusion among consumers, say some ethical trading groups.
“Fairtrade has been a beacon of hope for people concerned about inequalities between rich and poor countries” Therefore, with companies trying to carve out their own fairly traded paths, it seems that more responsibility than ever has befallen the customer when it comes to deciding where their money goes. The triangle of ethical business isn’t so even anymore - more of a scalene than an equilateral. Fairtrade has been a beacon of hope for people concerned about inequalities between rich and poor countries and deterotiating human and labour rights. With climate change’s effects worsening the yields of crops, Fairtrade is needed more than ever to make up the financial loss farmers can experience. The more different kinds of fairly traded certification that pop up, the less attention the original receives. Shoppers are being overwhelmed, bombarded with so many different campaigns, unsure of which to choose, that Fairtrade is slipping from minds entirely. This is why this Fairtrade Fortnight, from Monday 24th February to Sunday 8th March deserves our fixed focus more than ever.
Supporting Fairtrade As previously stated, shoppers have a larger role than ever in choosing how their money is spent, and which kind of Fairtrade is most deserving of their money. This easy, comprehensive guide on how to better support Fairtrade should help make things clearer. 1. Start with just one product that you buy that has a Fairtrade alternative, and make the switch. Buying Fairtrade products is the easiest way to support Fairtrade, but the higher prices can be off putting to some people. But making one simple switch to a Fairtrade product that you recurrently use, such as sugar or coffee, makes you a consistent supporter without even realising it. 2. You can fundraise for Fairtrade - it is a charity after all! Whilst this is not as simple as chucking something with the Fairtrade logo into your shopping trolley, fundraising for Fairtrade is another way of generating the funds to help improve the lives of farmers and workers. This raises awareness about Fairtrade. More awareness means more people (hopefully) making a conscious effort to buy Fairtrade. 3. Educate yourself! One of the most popular reasons for people not shopping Fairtrade, according to the poll, is a lack of understanding as to how money generated by the charity helps farmers and workers. Educating yourself, using their website, will encourage you to buy Fairtrade, and maybe spread the knowledge further.
A Fairtrade Easter and Beyond Food&Drink Editor Harriet Laban gives us a selection box of chocolate readily available to students in Selly Oak, Edgbaston and Harborne to make shopping Fairtrade easier Harriet Laban Food&Drink Editor
Easter is well on its way, and is a time of year when our consumption of Fairtrade goods becomes more prominent. Certain brands of chocolate are some of the most easily recognised Fairtrade products on the market. These include Divine, Green & Blacks, and even Maltesers. The Fairtrade foundation has its own wonderful guide to buying Fairtrade at Easter, but here is Redbrick’s more studentfriendly guide. I have included chocolate which is available yearround, so these options may appear to be less traditionally Easter-based, but will hopefully encourage you to sustain a Fairtrade habit long after the hype of Fairtrade Fortnight dies down.
1. Divine chocolate This is one of my favourite ethical chocolate brands, mainly due to the huge variety of flavours they have available. Choose from classic dark, milk or white, or try one of their gorgeous combinations, such as ginger and orange, or Himalayan salt. If you don’t have a favourite yet, I would recommend getting one of their tasting set, full of little bars you can easily share with family and friends. These are available in Waitrose, located in Harborne, or in many ethical and health food shops. 2. Ben and Jerry’s Not the most traditional choice of Easter chocolate, but when you buy a carton of Phish Food or Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice
cream, you are supporting Fairtrade. If you’re planning on guzzling down the sweet treats post-Lent, ice cream is the way to go in my opinion, being a less sickly option than consuming several Easter eggs! Ben and Jerry’s ice cream can be found in almost any supermarket around Selly Oak and Edgbaston, and is often on offer. 3. Clipper You may be wondering why I’m including a tea brand on the guide, but it’s for good reason. Besides their wonderful teas, Clipper also makes Fairtrade hot chocolate. Deliciously rich and chocolatey, this is one for anyone who wants some easy warming comfort. You can buy a tub in Sainsbury’s or Waitrose, and it even comes in sachets. These are
perfect for taking onto campus to cheer up an afternoon of work. 4. Tony’s Chocolonely A Fairtrade brand you might not yet have heard of, but a favourite amongst influencers such as Zoe Sugg. This is chocolate at its chunky, indulgent best, complete with beautiful packaging. Available in many fun flavours, definitely give this a try as an alternative to your usual Dairy Milk; it’s like a more sophisticated Yorkie bar. Now available in many campus food outlets (you can use your meal plan!) and in Sainsbury’s in Selly Oak. 5. Aldi’s ‘Moser Roth’ I think that Moser Roth is deserving of an honourable mention due to it being sold by Aldi, the primary supermarket for many
UoB students living in Selly Oak. If you were previously put off buying Fairtrade due to it being stocked in more expensive supermarkets, here is your opportunity to be ethically supportive whilst sticking to a student budget.
Friday 21st Feburary 2020
The Biographies of Nobel Prize Winners Dylan Morgen explores the biographies of the four most recent nobel prize winners associated with the University of Birmingham Dylan Morgen
The one discernible common element was a strong internal need to understand what they observed and the freedom to explore this. Where did this drive come from? Possibly from dismantling engines when he was young for one. Another experienced a general intellectual blossoming from their time
at University. Yet another thrived from a working partnership with a Professor. All the Laureates are more colourful and better understood when their entire personalities are considered, rather than making do with abstracted figures of achievement on a Nobel pedestal.
Professor Fraser Professor David Stoddart Thouless
Professor Michael Kosterlitz
2016 Chemistry Nobel Prize Recipient, with two others. UoB Head of Chemistry, 1990-97
2016 Physics Nobel Prize Recipient, with two others. Physics Professor, 1965-78
Professor Paul Nurse
2016 Physics Nobel Prize Recipient, with two others. Physics Lecturer, Reader, 1970-82
2001 Medicine Nobel Prize Recipient, with two others. BSc Biology, 1967-70
Fraser Stoddart was brought up on a Scottish farm near Edinburgh. His father had been an agricultural lecturer, his mother a hotel manager. He loved puzzles, Meccano sets and reassembling vehicle engines. Being the only boy in primary school, he learned to knit stockings particularly well. Through his friendships with the farmhands he learnt to swear from an early age. He was a shy little boy, a trait that took him more than three decades to overcome. He obtained an upper second class Chemistry degree and a PhD at Edinburgh University. Becoming a Research Fellow in ICI at Sheffield University, he wrote that people were nasty in his early years, and so competitive and so unpleasant to each other and to the students. After a few years, he became a Chemistry Lecturer at Sheffield, and was more confident in dealing with departmental politics and asserting himself. He was approached in 1990 by the Vice-Chancellor of UoB, Sir Michael Thompson, which resulted in him moving to Birmingham as Head of Department and Professor of Organic Chemistry. The Department of Chemistry was in a badly run-down state and morale was low. New NMR and mass spectrometry facilities were installed and the 7th floor refurbished. As far as research was concerned, his seven years at Birmingham exceeded his wildest dreams. His impression that his wife was not receiving the best breast cancer care in Birmingham led to Stoddart accepting a post at UCLA in 1997. He made his final move to Northwestern University in 2008 which had dedicated laboratories. He always felt that allowing interactions between teams without meddling or interference was an extremely effective dynamic for high quality research. This was by and large, lost on university administrators and the regulatory authorities, who prefer research being performed in silos. He believed that rules needed to be broken to be successful in life.
Thouless’ mother and father were both lecturers. He won a scholarship at Winchester College and enjoyed the emphasis on private study and assignments, with less than eighteen hours a week teaching. He studied Natural Sciences at the small Trinity Hall College in Cambridge which suited his introverted personality, and he completed his PhD at Cornell University. Thouless then moved to the Department of Mathematical Physics at UoB for two years of postdoctoral research. Thouless spent the summers of 1960 and 1961 at the Niels Bohr Institute and Nordita in Copenhagen. This helped his parlous financial state in supporting a family on a British postdoctoral salary. After another four years at Cambridge, Thouless returned to Birmingham as professor of physics. This was a welcome change as he had frequently suffered from respiratory illnesses, which improved after buying a centrally heated house in Birmingham in 1966. One colleague said that others were terrified of him as he did not suffer fools gladly. Around 1970 at UoB, Thouless, who had broad ideas, started working with Kosterlitz who would find the holes and solutions in Thouless’ arguments. His family had a Bedford Dormobile for holidaying, including travel to Europe, which at times coincided with conferences he wanted to go to. Thouless did not leave the UK for money in 1979, but because of difficulties with the university administration. The new Vice-Chancellor, Robert Hunter, asked Thouless in 1969 what he would be doing next. Thouless gave the true but impolitic answer that he did not have any definite plans. This led to an ongoing saga which resulted in the Vice-Chancellor eventually telling Thouless that if he had a chance to leave the University he should do so. There were no theoretical physics chairs open in the UK, so Thouless went to the University of Washington,
Kosterlitz was born in Aberdeen, with his father and mother, of a Jewish background, having escaped Germany in 1934. His medical doctor father accepted a teaching position at Aberdeen University. At school, his ability to make logical deductions compensated for his unreliable memory. He enjoyed the freedom in the laboratory, although he caused it to be evacuated a few times. He realised he had a disability in being red green blind. He then studied at Cambridge and became obsessed with rock climbing. He finished with an upper second. After a PhD in Oxford, he went to Turin for two years as it was close to the Alps. In his twenties, he was one of the best climbers in Britain and considered giving up physics for a professional climbing career. He failed to submit an application to CERN in time whilst in Italy, panicked, and bought the British newspaper advertising academic jobs. Consequently, he was offered a three-year postdoctoral position at UoB although he did not really want to go there for high energy physics. After frustrations in his own academic field, he grew closer to Thouless at UoB and started to work with him and with patience they became friendly. He next went to Cornell in 1973/74, arranged by Thouless. Returning in 1974 as a tenured lecturer, he was promoted to Reader in 1980. He remembered the singular exhilaration of his 1977 paper with Thouless, when theory agreed with experiment. He then contracted the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis, resulting in several years of depression which affected his physics productivity. After attacks every 18 months or so, at 55 he received a new very successful drug. He received a full Professor offer from Brown University, and UoB made a counter-offer of a research Professor, but then abruptly withdrew the offer. He therefore left for America in 1982, where he has stayed.
Nurse was born in Norfolk, where his parents worked in big houses, his mother a cook, his father a handyman. To get to primary school, he had a long walk where he observed the animals, insects and plants and how they changed during the seasons, which made a lasting impression on him. At school he was not good at exams and there wasn’t enough time to follow up his interests. His Biology teacher let pupils do experiments and he enjoyed investigating the pigments of different mutant fruit flies. He applied to several universities, but without a pass in a foreign language, he instead worked as a technician in a Guinness laboratory. However, Professor Jinks at the UoB Genetics Department came across his application, gave him an extensive interview and arranged for his language failure to be overlooked. He began his Biology degree in 1967. He met his wife, a sociology student, at UoB and her influence and student movement activities got him interested in theatre, art, music, politics and philosophy. He became gripped by intellectual pursuits and realised this was the direction he wanted to go in. Nurse sold Socialist Worker and participated in an occupation of the Vice-Chancellor's office. Birmingham turned him into a general biologist and he invariably took a biological approach to research projects. After UoB he moved to Edinburgh University for six pivotal years of his research career, where he discovered a key feature of cell development. After Edinburgh, Nurse moved to Sussex University, then the Cancer Research Foundation, Oxford University, Rockefeller University and finally the Crick Institute in London as Director. He believes science research is an international activity, breaking down barriers between the peoples of the world. Nurse has also said that good scientists must have passion and a set of attitudes including mental honesty, self-criticism, openmindedness and scepticism.
These mini biographies are of the four most recent Nobel Winners affiliated with the University of Birmingham (UoB). They have been researched from the official
Nobel Prize biographies and other professional profiles. In describing their time in Birmingham, very human portraits emerge from struggles with multiple sclerosis, treating one wife’s breast cancer, depression and barriers to University admission. The Nobel Laureates showed
different combinations of ability, hard work, tenacity and luck. The Nobel Prizes were not a certainty, as awarding modern Nobel Prizes is a fickle affair with dozens of worthy candidates. Some experienced problems with the University administration, and one occupied their offices.
Jim Prisching Photography US Embassy Sweden
Seattle in 1980, much as he wanted to stay in the UK. On his arrival, he was awarded a subject specific grant at Seattle, but he also wrote he might investigate a different topic if it was more interesting. He remained happily at Seattle for the rest of his career.
Friday 21st February 2020
Katie Norris explores the vibrant life and works of David Hockney
David Hockney’s work ranges from monumental paintings of swimming pools that depict an appreciation of the male form to drawings of flowers in vases on his iPad, from overly saturated landscapes to parred back pencil drawings, reinventing his art forms over and over whilst retaining a recognisability. The high saturation of these paintings, and performative movement in his swimming pools paintings have been previously associated with camp aesthetics, and this aesthetic is why Hockney’s work is so eyecatching, drawing us into these landscapes. His own identification as a gay man played into his art, and this camp aesthetic is a testament to him being able to make what he called ‘propaganda’ for queer love. By making his desire for men an important part of his art, he took the heterosexual narrative of the ‘gay agenda’ into his favour, normalising romance and queer attraction in a time when homosexual acts were still illegal. Two favourite pieces that incorporate this desire into imagery have to be ‘Adhesiveness’ and ‘We Two Boys Together Clinging’. ‘We Two Boys Together Clinging’ takes a childlike sketch of two
Flickr, A bigger Splash, 1967, David Hockney
Carmen Maria Machado
stickmen holding each other and kissing, with the blurred faces creating a liminal space within this intimacy, only a red smudge between the two faces suggesting a kiss. This piece contrasts this ambiguity with the words ‘we 2 boys together clinging’ written around the two figures, making this explicit, and as these words come from a Walt Whitman poem, Hockney directly places himself within a legacy of queer art.
“Hockney directly places himself within a legacy of queer art” The shapes and colours of this piece creates a continuity with ‘Adhesiveness’ which uses modernist imagery to create a scene of two scarlet figures penetrating each other. Hockney moves to portray a different form of explicitness, moving from an intimate portrayal to a more sexual one. By using modernism to present phallic images and bright colours, he effectively celebrates homosexual love by blurring the boundaries of real and imaginary to create a place for homosexual pleasure and actualised desire in the art world, at a time when this space was needed.
Mural by Freddie Lanka, photo by Luca Demetriou
Maddi Siobhan Simpson introduces us to American author, Carmen Maria Machado Maddi Siobhan Simpson
Carmen Maria Machado is a contemporary queer American author and essayist, with her work being published in numerous magazines, including The New Yorker, Granta, and The Paris Review. As well as this, in 2017 her collection of short stories ‘Her Body and Other Parties’ was published, receiving the 2017 National Book Critics Circle Award John Leonard Prize and a finalist position in the National Book Award Fiction Prize. The corpus of Machado’s work is a complex blend of science fiction, magic realism, eroticism and horror, that which draws upon a rich and cross-cultural literary history as an inspiration for her ground-breaking fiction. The second short story in ‘Her Body and Other Parties’, named ‘Inventory’, chronicles the speaker’s sexual experiences with both men and women throughout their life from teenager to adult, and as the story progresses it is revealed that a viral epidemic is sweeping across North America. It is the most explicitly science fiction piece of
Machado’s but highlights her ability to incorporate multiple genres and styles of writing to explore complex themes, particularly of queer sexuality. Her most recent literary publication ‘In the Dream House’ (2019), is a memoir that chronicles Machado’s own experience with psychological inter-partner domestic abuse within a lesbian relationship. It is a ground mostly untouched in the cultural discussions and literary explorations into the inner horror of domestic abuse, that which occurs between women. The memoir is written in a second-person narrative style, with Machado referring to her own self as ‘you’. She creates a separation between herself as author and herself as victim, and through this is able to explore the horror of domestic abuse with nuance, skill and imaginative flair. The memoir is organised into short vignettes, that often blend her characteristic poetic language with critical theory, with footnotes littered throughout. ‘In The Dream House’ is an insightful, beautiful, emotional and at points stomach-churning text, but it is one that tells a remarkably unheard narrative, and does so with her characteristically weird and wonderful writing style.
by urban developBirmingham’s Gay Village threatened ment plans. This physical space
Antonio Miguel Aguila talks Nightingales to Birmingham Pride Antonio Miguel Aguila
Birmingham has a unique LGBT culture. Unless you’re a fresher or you’ve been living under a rock you probably heard of Birmingham’s well-known Gay Village. This safe space has been historically around since the 70s. In 1997, Angels opened itself up as the first official site for the LGBT community. From this the heart of Gay Village
flourished with new LGBT friendly locations, for instance, the famous Nightingales. However, there is resistance to this idea of acceptance. On the other hand, there are noble attempts to fix the disadvantages this group faces. For example, Birmingham Pride awarding local charities with £20, 000 to help combat LGBT homelessness. Yet, there still seems to be bigger mountains to move. Eden’s Bar: one of the Gay Village’s earliest is being
where people are able to properly express and be who they are may be taken away, unless the Birmingham City Council acknowledge the Gay Village as a cultural heritage site. Although, I am cynical in this specific case I am hopeful for the future. What makes Gay Village is not its services but its people who promote a sense of belonging. This community’s messages echo outside the Gay Village. There are still things to be done, but Birmingham should still be praised with its progress for the queer community. Like the butterfly effect, small actions lead to greater changes for the better.
Friday 21st February 2020
The NAMES Project
Nadia Sommella celebrates the moving AIDs quilted memorial Nadia Sommella
White House Archives
The Names Project, or AIDs Quilt, is one of the most powerful examples of LGBTQ+ creative activism and demonstrates the strength of collaboration in the queer community. The artwork, one of the biggest in queer history, was a collective project started in 1986, five years after the AIDs crisis began. The quilt consists of 3’ by 6’ panels sewn together into larger, square parts. Each panel commemorates one or more people killed by AIDs, naming them, in an effort to give faces to the statistics that were prevalent in the media. The artwork memorialises individuals lost to AIDs and allows those close to them to voice their grief. However, it also has a wider purpose. The quilt, which was performatively laid out in public spaces, illustrated the size and severity of the crisis at a time where the President, Ronald Reagan, refused to men-
tion the AIDs crisis in public. Several times it was laid out in its entirety in Washington DC.
“The quilt spread from the Captiol Building to the Washington Monument, a length that would take you half an hour to walk” Most famously in 1996 the quilt spread from the Capitol Building to the Washington Monument, a length that would take you half an hour to walk. Not only did this force the public and those in power to visualise the impact of the crisis on the queer community, it also allowed them to take up physical space at a time where the
community was dismissed and blamed. David W. Dunlap of the New York Times described it as ‘a carpet of grief’ (3rd Oct 1996). The artwork itself is beautiful, despite the collective trauma it represents. Each quilted panel is different, utilising various fabrics and embellishments, showcasing the diversity within the queer community. Personal mementos such as dog tags, teddy bears and baseball caps are sewn into the fabric, an emotional reminder of the people behind each name. The use of a quilt as the medium is notable. It fulfils the concept of individuals coming together to create change by literally stitching each individual patch into one unified whole. It is a decorative art medium that has been largely excluded from art history and traditional art spaces, much like LGBTQ+ people have been excluded from art historical narratives. It is also an object of comfort and warmth. It is a celebration of sorts, of the creative resistance and support in the queer community. The NAMES Project was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.It is still being added to and now consists of over 50,000 individual panels, commemorating over 105,000 individual lives.
LGBTQ+ History Month Terribly wronged, Oscar Wilde is remembered and praised by Culture’s Ameek Gilhorta Ameek Gilhotra
Oscar Wilde’s genius is more widely known than his homosexuality – for he lived in a time in which people applauded his intelligence, but reproached his sexuality. Wilde’s sexuality and behaviour was seen as ‘gross indecency,’ and he was subjected to two years of hard labour. Indeed, his treatment as a prisoner was intensely heartbreaking resulting in a physical and mental decline in his health.
“His treatment as a prisoner was intensely heartbreaking resulting in a physical and mental decline” Condemning Wilde to imprisonment was seen as ‘just’ according to the establishment of the time . Even so, his works were praised by society. Shamelessly, the man who was responsible for this utter ruin of Wilde, Lord Alfred Douglas,
wanted to dedicate a volume of sonnets to him. Thankfully, this did not proceed as intended, for Wilde asked his most valued friend, Robert Ross, to write to Douglas to not do so.
“Wilde faced something that no one deserves” Wilde faced something that no one deserves. His sexual life rested on mutual consent from all parties concerned. Even after his sentence, society punished him with their judgmental ways. His career was stolen from him and his rise to fame was out of question. Laurence Housman applauded Wilde in his 1923 Echo de Paris - A Study of Life for his graceful behaviour after the despicable way in which he was treated. ‘But what I admired most was the quiet, uncomplaining courage with which he accepted and ostracism against which, in his lifetime, there could be no appeal. To a man of his habits and temperament – conscious that the incentive to produce was gone with the popular applause which had been its recurrent stimulus – the outlook was utterly dark: life had already become a tomb’.
Wikimedia, edited by Luca Demetriou
Friday 21st February 2020
‘The Man’ in Music: The Killers VS Taylor Swift Gemma Elgar Music Editor
Feminism and the treatment of women in the music industry is not a new topic in this day and age. We’re all aware of how derogatory it is to have music videos of male artists with women in bikinis, bragging about their cars and their bitches, but the acknowledgement of the ways female artists are being treated behind closed doors is something else being brought to light. There is a level of discrimination that still runs from a place of misogyny; Dua Lipa told the BBC, ‘For a male artist, people instantly assume they write their own music, but for women, they assume it’s all manufactured.’ For one of the industries with the highest mix of men and women at the most successful stages, it’s ridiculous that there is still such a difference in the standard of respect they receive when out of the spotlight. Everyone is familiar with the stories of artists like Ke$ha and Taylor Swift, unashamed to speak out about their relationships with their producers and contracts, fighting for the right
to their own music. Swift, in fact, is where I want to lay my focus, regarding her track ‘The Man’ from Lover. But first, we need to go back a couple of years to a different song. In 2017, The Killers released their track titled ‘The Man’. At the time that it was released I genuinely enjoyed the track, and I still do; it’s definitely a bop. A catchy pop song. But on reflection, could the lyrics be considered a little problematic? It’s something I hadn’t even considered until the release of Swift’s track of the same name; the lyrics of her hook line ‘If I was a man / then I’d be the man’ invited me to reconsider the way The Killers’ track sells success as the be all and end all of masculinity.
“The Killer’s track sells success as the be all and end all of masculinity” ‘I got gas in the tank / I got money in the bank / I got news for you baby, you’re looking at the man’ gives a very different message, particularly as the narrator seems to be bigging himself up whilst talking down to a woman. There’s a glimmer of hope in the track that it could all be satirical; the album art is frontman Brandon Flowers’ son wearing a far-toobig leather jacket. Perhaps these ‘boyish ideas of manliness’ (as Pitchfork described in their review of ‘The Man’) really are meant as a joke. But even still, the surfacelevel meaning is dangerous, whether intentionally or not they reinforce ideas that success = man. And that’s where Taylor Swift comes in. In the run up to her newly released Netflix documentary, Swift has not been private about her struggles in accessing her own music, courtesy of producer
Scooter Braun. She reflects on this in the short film, as well as the effects of Kanye West telling her, on stage, that she didn’t deserve her first MTV award, and a lot of other times that men, often twice her age, have told her what to do and how to act to be a success. James Sammataro, music lawyer, told the Guardian that Swift’s dispute with Braun could change the industry; ‘This is like negotiation in the Instagram age.’ He said, ‘Taylor is directing it. She is forcing this chess game to be played in public.’ And her determination for the world to see the way she is treated is reflected in her music. The lyrics ‘What’s it like to brag about raking in dollars / And getting bitches and models?’ shortly followed by ‘If I was out flashin’ my dollars / I’d be a bitch not a baller’ sums it up pretty well, I think. ‘The Man’, not men in music, but in life, is a problematic figure. Idealised images of manliness and success are detrimental to both sexes, setting expectations that are too-high for men and an impossible target for women to reach. The idea of ‘The Man,’ rich and pimp-ish, is an outdated figure that we need to ia stop glorifying. Tracks Wikiped like Taylor Swift’s ‘The Man’, alongside Ke$ha’s ‘Woman’ and Lily Allen’s ‘Hard Out Here’ to name a few, are paving the way in modern feminist music. I Wikimedia Commons think it’s time we let ‘The Man’ go.
Single Review: Billie Eilish - No Time To Die Bethany-Jo O’Neill Music Editor
After an impressive list of predecessors including Shirley Bassey, Sam Smith and Adele, Billie Eilish has taken on the responsibility of creating the theme song for Daniel Craig’s final outing as the eponymous 007. Named after the title for the upcoming film, ‘No Time To Die’ the song is the perfect mix between Eilish’s experimental style and the classic grandeur that has come to be expected from the title track of a James Bond film. At 18 years of age, Billie Eilish is the youngest artist to be given the honour of recording a Bond theme, however, her arrangement is ultimately up there with the best of them. ‘No Time To Die’ exposes the impressive quality of Eilish’s vocals more than in any song she has released before. She has a beautiful range in this song and the high notes show a vulnerability that is often hidden behind her vibrant persona and energetic tracks. It is refreshing to see a new facet of Eilish’s
repertoire which was hinted at in her recent single, ‘everything I wanted’. On first listen, it is impossible to not imagine the artistic title sequence which the song will accompany at the beginning of the film. After this novelty has passed, however, ‘No Time To Die’ can be appreciated as a song in its own right. The instrumentation of this song is just as impressive as that of ‘Goldfinger’ and ‘Writing’s on the Wall’. The accompaniment grows in intensity throughout the song until a full sounding orchestra is introduced. After this climax, the texture is stripped right back again to allow Eilish’s haunting vocals to be foregrounded. The classic ringing guitar strum at the end of the track is incredibly Bond-esque and rounds off a perfect tribute to the Bond tradition. The lyrics tell a story of someone contemplating an inner turmoil of betrayal and regret. The phrase ‘fool me
once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me’ acts as a focal point for the lyrics as the line, ‘Fool me once, fool me twice’ is second only to the title for most memorable line in the song. This idea seems like it will set up the conflict in the film between the villain and Bond. Eilish hinted at this when she told Zane Lowe that, ‘We got a piece of the script, like the first scene and then wrote the song immediately,’ therefore the lyrics may indeed make more sense once the film has been released. Many people doubted Eilish’s ability to deliver on this track as the experimental style explored in her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? is antithetical to what is regarded as fit for a Bond theme. Of course, there will still be many people who hate the song solely on the basis that it is Billie Eilish, but based solely on the song released, the songstress has triumphed. Renegade Records
Friday 21st February 2020
The Best Love Songs Ever After the novelty of Valentine’s Day last week, the Music Editors have put together their favourite love songs to soundtrack your February
Bethany-Jo O’Neill Music Editor
Songbird Fleetwood Mac ‘Songbird’ is arguably the most beautifully written song on Fleetwood Mac’s album Rumours. The simplicity of the song allows
Real Love Baby Father John Misty
Josh Tillman h a s
romantic ambience perfect for the same passion that she expresses in her lyrics. The sweetness of this action really transpires through the recording as it is clear McVie is entirely at ease by her vocals floating effortlessly from note to note. For a band famous for inner disputes and lovers tiffs, there is a purity in the lyrics penned by McVie that supersede this tension. The lines, ‘ ‘cause I feel that when I’m with you / It’s alright, I know it’s right,’ encapsulate the idea that love should be somewhere you feel comfortable and can forget about the struggles of everyday life. This concept in itself is very heart-warming, much like the set up for recording the song. As a first dance and Love Actually classic, ‘Songbird’ hits all the right notes and says ‘I love you’ just the right number of times to be considered an all-time great
Dylan Lucas Music Editor
long been a man associated with love and romance. From his days drumming to the Fleet Foxes’ croons on Helplessness Blues to the melancholic loneliness of his latest release under the Father John Misty title, God’s Favourite Customer. While, you’d generally expect any romantic celebration to focus on Tillman’s 2015 opus I Love You, Honeybear, instead I’d like to focus on ‘Real Love Baby’. ed
A song born in the 80’s, the decade of some of the best and worst pop songs ever recorded; ‘You Make My Dreams’ is hands down one of the best. The walking beat of the song and doo-wop melodies perfectly embody the feeling of happiness behind reciprocated romance, as demonstrated in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s iconic dance sequence half way through 500 Days of Summer. ‘You Make My Dreams’ takes inspiration from other classic songs, such as the allusion to Otis Redding’s ‘Hard to Handle’ lyrics ‘Pretty thing, let me light your candle / Cause mama I’m sure hard to handle’ in the Hall and Oates opening ‘What I want, you’ve got / but it might be hard to handle / like the flame that burns the candle.’ On top of this, the direct reference to The Beatles’ ‘Twist and Shout’ in the second verse really adds to the fun-loving feeling of the song, emitted by association. In creating the feel-good anthem of romance, Hall and Oates have found the perfect balance of happiness and adoration, and have constructed a love song that avoids falling victim to the clichés of the category. ‘You Make My Dreams’ feels like the anthem of young lovers, clicking their fingers to the beat, making their way towards each other from opposite sides of the dance floor. I applaud the individual that has enough self-control to not at least bop their head along to this song.
in the love song category.
You Make My Dreams - Hall and Oates
the grand sentiment of true love to touch the hearts of any listener. The soothing vocals of Christine McVie are accompanied solely by an understated combination of piano and guitar which allows the song to be all the more intimate. ‘Songbird’ was recorded live in one take with McVie on piano and Buckingham on guitar. As a surprise for McVie, a bouquet of flowers was placed upon the piano and the lights dimmed before recording in order to create a
Gemma Elgar Music Editor
Aside from having one of the catchiest hooks of the last decade, what makes this track so great is its earnest nature. Tillman is famed for his charm, and this shines in his lyricism on other love songs like ‘Chateau Lobby #4 (In C For Two Virgins)’. While this song and many others in his repertoire are definitely worthy of this spot, they often complicate themselves with complex narratives which bring out Ti l l m a n ’s inherent cynicism. It is the
for that ‘Real Love Baby’ deserves to be swooned to.
Daisy Kirkaldy Music Editor
If You’re Not The One - Daniel Bedingfield
In my opinion, an iconic love song should be one that carries just as much weight when belting it with your pals, as it does with complete romantic sentimentality. For me, ‘If You’re Not The One’ by Daniel Bedingfield assumes both of these roles perfectly. Rogue choice, you might be saying, but there is something about the obscure artist that Bedingfield is, combined with the boy-bandesque nostalgia it brings and the truly iconic lyrics that cemented its position as my all-time favourite. Daniel Bedingfield lies dangerously close to the one-hit-wonder cliché (although, ‘Gotta Get Thru This’ is absolutely superb) but he seems to fit in perfectly sim- with the emotional male vocalists plicity popular in the 2000s (think i n Westlife, Ronan Keating, Tillman’s Backstreet Boys). words on Being two years old at the ‘Real Love time of release (2002), it should Baby’ which not be surprising to anyone that make it his greatest my love for this song developed love song. The song much later in life. The countless is as short as it is sweet times that I have sung ‘If You’re and is all the better for it. Not The One’ at the top of my This solo single stands voice has led me to realise that apart from the rest because it’s despite the lyrics being far from a rare moment where Tillman groundbreaking, it is the sickly doesn’t hide behind quips and sweet line of ‘I hope I love you all elongated tales. Instead he’s my life’ that really gets me. I straight to the point, with the song genuinely find it impressive that generally being based around an such a simple lyric is able to comongoing metaphor of bees and pletely perpetuate the incredibly flowers. While this may seem like cheesy nature of the song as a a pretty standard choice, the swap- whole. ping of pronouns regarding who ‘If You’re Not The One’ is a fulfils which role makes the song complete product of the 2000s: feel less like a male gaze of a slow side-to-side clicks seem secbeautiful woman and more of a ond nature to the slow pace of the genuine expression of compas- backing track. Admittedly, my sion between a couple. affection for 2000s music knows Essentially, ‘Real Love Baby’ no bounds, so I am probably shows off not only Tillman’s com- biased towards the time period, prehensive ability as a songwriter but I stand by my statement that it and lyricist but also that he really is the ultimate love song. does live up to the romantic reputation he’s built for himself and
Album Review: HMLTD Jade Matlock Music Critic
Fresh from a copyright brawl with Ronald MacDonald, HMLTD have pulled no punches with their eagerly anticipated debut. The London based band formed in 2015 but kept fans waiting for their first studio album for five years. With more synth, leather and glitter than anyone could have possibly imagined, West of Eden is an avant-garde experiment in the boundaries of musical genre.
It is no surprise that HMLTD’s sound is notoriously hard to label; from experimental rock, to EDM, their music canvases each of the far corners of genre and takes no prisoners in the process. ‘LOADED’ is perhaps one of the most prominent rock tracks on the album. Their lyrics are quick to discuss their quarrels with their former record label while heavily distorted synths frame the narrative. The song’s continuous peaks and silences help to build an apprehensive and tense atmosphere that appears to flow through
the entirety of the album. While ‘To The Door’ is familiar to many avid listeners of the band, there is a uniqueness to it that never seems to fade. In what can only be described as the artistic world’s most ambitious crossover between Travis Scott’s trap beats and Django Unchained, nothing quite lives up to the anthem’s electric energy, but that certainly hasn’t stopped them from trying. ‘Satan, Luella and I’, another former single, strips back the adrenaline and instead chooses to let layers of melodic mad-
ness take the spotlight. Perhaps where HMLTD’s talent is most on display is in their cohesive ability to build tension. The transition from ‘Joanna’ to ‘Where’s Joanna?’ demonstrates this perfectly. The former uses delicate music-box melodies and gentle instrumentation to lure the listener in, with the repeated piano riff building an almost palpable longing for the radical breakdown that listeners are so used to. The latter uses distinctly more distorted and staccato melodies to further the suspense of the former
and bring it to a disjointed, but melodically dense, conclusion. This album is a triumph in experimentation. Their sound seems to have culminated into an amalgamation of synth driven melodies, howling lyrics and an indulgent helping of glam rock and glitter. HMLTD executes one of the most seamless musical endeavours of the year to date. While the band argue that ‘Nobody Stays In Love’, it can be said that this album will enamour its listeners for many years to come.
Friday 21st February 2020
Review: Sonic the Hedgehog
Film Critic Antonio Miguel Aguila is disappointed by this video game adaptation Antonio Miguel Aguila weird, Carrey adds a strange and guising the fact that he enacts existent C.G.I. character was perFilm Critic
In 2004 Jeff Fowler created a viral animated video called Gopher Broke. Although it isn’t great there were at least traces of artistic expression. Since then he has worked his way up the ladder to become the director of the new Sonic movie. Receiving backlash from audiences about the original Sonic C.G.I, he pushed the movie back to re-animate an appearance befitting of the childhood fan favourite hedgehog, maybe even refurbish parts of the movie. However, it appears not even Jim Carrey’s talent nor the great action spectacle could save the film from its own terrible writing and concept. Logistically, Sonic is a film that just does not make sense. Sadly, and almost mockingly, the studio clearly hijacked this film depriving it of any real enjoyment. This was to be expected, although I didn’t think it would be this bad. I was actually quite excited for this movie, and it would have been completely fine if it was only a cheap blockbuster adaptation, but even then, it is barely able to do that. The end result is a bad exploitative cash-grab that obeys all the formulas. The only reason this movie isn’t getting a lower rating other than Jim Carrey is that the underpaid and overworked animators deserve better. Jim Carrey excelled at, well, being Jim Carrey. He definitely stole every scene he was in. After watching the film, I couldn’t imagine anyone better to play the part of Dr. Robotnik. Carrey drew as much captivation out of a minor silly character as he could. While most previous versions of the character in the video games were only hilarious and
charismatic factor to him so that he is not solely one-dimensional. In this adaptation, he is a disturbed narcissistic maniac who doesn’t understand social cues, thinking he is above them; he is almost always amusing to laugh at. Dare I even say he even made some moments of the character cool. He wastes not a second. Every word and action held a purpose. His introduction was brilliantly clear; you knew who he was from the onset and he kept this up consistently. I really appreciate the extreme close-ups of his scheming face, and whenever he was on screen, the cinematography actually shifted to a decent standard apart from the rest of the amateurish film. It was almost as if the director knew he would be the only redeeming aspect of the movie. Despite the film being terrible overall, Jim Carrey should be proud to put this in his life’s work.
“Sonic is a film that just does not make sense” Conceptually, this was a story that was never going to work. At the end of the first act there was absolutely no reason for the characters to come together at all. At this point in the film the policeman who has spent his whole life trying to make it into the big city to prove himself risks everything for an annoying blue humanoid hedgehog who he has only just met, with the hedgehog labelled as a terrorist threat by every news channel. The blue humanoid hedgehog also admits to having been stalking him and his girlfriend the entire time and not dis-
fantasies of becoming his son. When they all came together as a family in the end, I felt very uncomfortable and creeped out. It was far too unconvincing! It hurts to think somebody got paid to write this, and it hurts even more considering how many producers and so on approved the concept and executed it. The movie ends with the terrible life lesson of staying in the same town and not seeking adventure in the unknown and giving yourself up to new challenges that may develop you as a person. The concept of a cop wanting to leave his mundane town to go out and prove himself actually had lots of potential for interest. Unfortunately, this was completely wasted. What especially didn’t help was how poorly the movie was carried out. You know the old cinematic method of show don’t tell? Sonic does the exact opposite every single possible moment it can. There were plenty of showdon’t-tell moments yet somehow none of them made it through. It also does not help that Sonic sounds like the Caucasian loser protagonist in every western remake of a martial arts film. The temp music was horrendously generic and there were too many embarrassing self-referential voiceovers, blatant rip-offs including the Quicksilver scene from X-Men: Days of Future Past, and raccoon insults from the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and the entire structure of iHop. The script felt like it was written by a 12-yearold who saw a plethora of action movies. Within every scene there is at least one cringe-inducing line of dialogue including a lot of poop jokes that only Jim Carrey could make work. On the other hand, James Marsden’s acting was nice. His interactions with a non-
suasive enough. At first, I liked how Tika Sumpter’s character was written. Her introductory scene made it seem like her character was an actually interesting person who wouldn’t just be side-lined to the attractive romantic interest with barely little involvement or agency in the story. That was until she was immediately side-lined to the attractive romantic interest. Throughout the movie there is a suggestion that Lee Majdoub as Agent Stone was going to get an arc and lash back at Dr. Robotnik for constantly abusing him, but to no avail. His acting was great along with Tika Sumpter’s and it would have been nice for the ethnic actors to not be side-lined. Another glaring problem with the movie is: where are the other beloved franchise characters? Couldn’t there have at least been a cameo? Jim Carrey did a fantastic job with Dr. Robotnik but what people really want to see is Sonic square off with Shadow. Furthermore, with Knuckles, Tails and so forth they would have really added onto the spectacle of the film and produced character interactions more meaningful and authentic as suppose to a forced buddy road trip VERDICT: Jim Carrey does a fantastic job in terms of staying true to the character while also adding extra layers. He is hilarious and captivating. Only he could have done this job. As for the rest of the movie the spectacle looks great, but it can’t distract from the horrible concepts, storytelling, writing, voice acting, rip-offs, ethnic side-lining and the absence of the other Sonic characters. I would give this a lower score, but I feel too sorry for the underpaid, overworked animators.
Review: To All The Boys:
P.S. I Still Love You
Film Critic Aimée Calvert is falling out of love with this Netflix rom-com franchise Aimée Calvert Film Critic
Last week saw the return of 16-year-old Lara Jean Covey (played by Lana Condor) to our screens in To All the Boys: P.S I Still Love You and she’s in her first real relationship, with previous ‘fake-boyfriend’ and high-school it-boy Peter Kavinsky (played by Noah Centineo). The sequel has a lot to live up to with the undeniable success of the first film, To All the Boys I Loved Before, which was viewed by over 80 million subscribers and is one of online streaming service Netflix’s most successful original films to date. Due to the success of the first instalment in the franchise, Netflix is allowing non-subscribers to watch the original for free until 9th March – good news for those whose budgets can’t quite cover a Netflix subscription. The sequel picks up relatively soon after the first, opening to Lara Jean getting ready for her first date with Peter. As expected the date goes well, with much camera panning to their joint hands to emphasise the fact that
they are now a couple, and ends with Peter promising not to break Lara Jean’s heart; Lara Jean doesn’t make the same promise and this sets the tone for the rest of the film. As with most romantic comedies, the couple cannot be happy for long and something, or in this case someone, needs to come and shake things up. Enter John Ambrose McClaren (played by Jordan Fisher), a recipient of one of Lara Jean’s five love letters which were posted by her meddling younger sister in the first film. It doesn’t take long for flirting, and frustration on the audience’s part, to ensue and the lovetriangle to be firmly established. However, even though John Ambrose plays a key role in the drama of the film, he, as an individual, gets very little focus, and a lot of the character development seen in the novel is forsaken for the sake of a bizarre heartbreak montage. Another oversight regarding character is the complete absence
of Josh Sanderson, Lara Jean’s crush at the beginning of the first film and one of her closest friends, as well as being an audience favourite (although not as much as Peter!). Josh had a strong relationship to the whole Covey family in the original film, and the books, and was not only there to serve as a love interest for Lara Jean. In To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, however, he is completely absent throughout the whole film – with no explanation as to why. Even though the film is lacking in the character development department, it does deliver in other ways. The plot, even if it is frustrating, has the audience invested from the get-go; you cannot help but want to shout at LaraJean every time she doesn’t tell John Ambrose about Peter and, as always, everyone will take a side and be either ‘Team Peter’ or ‘Team John’. It also offers a more realistic take on high-school romance that other films often paint out to be so simple and
straightforward. Nobody goes into a relationship knowing that this will be ‘the one’, there are moments of doubt and there are arguments, especially when you throw the stress of high-school into the mix. The film handles this well and provides a more realistic take on what it means to navigate a relationship during an already stressful time in your life. VERDICT: To All the Boys: P.S I Still Love You does exactly what everyone expected it to, it’s full of lines that make you want to cringe for days and there’s also moments where you want to scream at Lara Jean for her mistakes. But it’s meant to be a lighthearted and easy watch so it shouldn’t be taken too seriously; although, as often the case with sequels, it doesn’t do this as well as the first film.
Friday 21st February 2020
Taylor-Joy is perfect as Austen’s titular character Amy O’Neill Film Editor
Emma is a handsome film, clever and witty, rich in design, with a happy disposition. It is a pastel delight of an adaptation of my favourite Austen novel: not the first, probably not the last, but original, fun, and absolutely beautiful. Emma Woodhouse lives a life of very little hardship. She lives with her father on a beautiful Regency countryside estate, goes on picnics, to dances, drinks tea, and meddles in other people’s love lives for pleasure. It is this opulence and leisure which characterises the film, really living up to the satire that Austen intended it to be, almost mocking the lives and frivolities of the privileged aristocracy.
“Director Autumn de Wilde is in her element with this adaptation” The plot follows Emma (Anya Taylor-Joy) as she tries to set up her new friend Harriet Smith (Mia Goth) with the eccentric vicar Mr Elton (Josh O'Connor) – and all of the mishaps and miscommunication that ensues in their respective love lives. Emotions get crossed between Emma and Harriet, for their respective (or perceived) feelings for the mysterious Mr Frank Churchill (Callum Turner)
and Mr George Knightley (Johnny Flynn), Emma's childhood friend. It is a tale of love, privilege and how one really shouldn't meddle in the love lives of others – even if you have their best interests at heart. Director Autumn de Wilde is in her element with this adaptation, with a quirky and flirty directorial style that portrays exactly the right tone of the novel. People often think that Austen novels are stuffy, but they couldn’t be further from the truth, especially not with Emma, undoubtedly the funniest, most calamitous of Austen’s works. There is nothing stuffy about this adaptation either, with all its colour and humour, and its spritely and unique classical and folk score composed by Isobel Waller-Bridge that truly complements the satirical nature of the comedy. Its cinematography is beautiful – perfect symmetry runs throughout the film – and its clean, pastel colour scheme is a perfect choice. Importantly though, the film showcased my favourite Austen trope: the dance in which two characters realise they are in love with one another, the most romantic moment of the film. Anya Taylor-Joy is truly fantastic. Her Emma is young and privileged; the blasé way she plays with people and matchmakes is like its second-nature to her, and she portrays a very-Regency sort of sass. Her counterpart in Harriet Smith played by Mia Goth is the perfect accompaniment, she is naïve and frivolous, and really comes into her own at the end when the character gains more emotional maturity. The real
star of the movie though is the wonderful Josh O’Connor as Mr Elton – a goofy, overzealous vicar with a penchant for the finer things in life, he is larger-than-life on screen and every scene of his is guaranteed to make you giggle. As Mr Woodhouse, Emma’s father Bill Nighy was criminally underused. As a characteristically funny actor, having him simply complain about draughts throughout the film was unfortunate, and I would have liked to have seen his relationship with his daughter and Mr Knightley developed. Sadly, however, the film dragged on, with definite pacing problems. With its funny moments, excellent performances, and gorgeous style, this is almost forgivable, but with the division of the story into the four seasons of the year, it makes you think 'wow, not a lot has happened in the last nine months'. By dividing the story up in this way, the film does two things. Firstly, it highlights how luxurious the lives of the characters are (something it plays up to perfection, including languid scenes of Emma and Mr Knightley having their servants dress them), with little to fill their time with but gossip and parties. Secondly, and unfortunately, it lends itself to my opinion that Emma is a story that is more suited to a short TV series format, such as the BBC production with Romola Garai in 2009. The story is clearly in four acts, and the clear (and unnecessary) separation of them into seasons in this film makes it feel far longer than its two-hour run time.
VERDICT: Autumn de Wilde’s Emma is truly Austen for the 21st century, without any gimmicks. Love and appreciation for the source material pour through this film, and whilst it’s held back by some pacing issues, it really is a delight to watch. Emma is a story that has stood the test of time, and this adaptation is a welcome two hours of fun, mischief and romance.
Oscars Round-up: Time to Say Goodbye? Given diminishing audience figures, we ask whether the Oscars are still fit for purpose Jade Matlock Film Critic
It’s supposed to be the most glamourous night in Hollywood. From far and wide, the brightest stars on the silver screen assemble at the Dolby Theatre for the chance to snatch that tiny golden man. But while those in the film industry were practically bursting with excitement, it appears that audiences weren’t quite on board, with ratings dropping to 23.6 million – the lowest recorded Oscar ratings in televised history. Where did they go wrong? What is it that infuriates their viewership enough to stop watching? Perhaps one of the most prominent issues with the Oscars is their lack of diversity. With only one person of colour nominated in the big four acting categories, it’s no surprise that potential viewers were understandably frustrated with the unwillingness to acknowledge the merit of those who do not conform to archaic Hollywood stereotypes. This is not to say that those nominated in the categories were done so arbitrarily – Laura Dern, Florence Pugh and Kathy Bates among others delivered some of the cinematic year’s best performances. But the absence of actresses such as Lupita Nyong’o and Awkwafina are deeply felt. Both elevated the standard of performance in Us and The Farewell
respectively and received critical acclaim for their roles in the films. What differentiates their performances from those of the nominees is their focus on the experience of women of colour over that of a white woman. Similar frustrations are felt in Best Director, in which the Academy snubbed female directors for the second year in a row. With Céline Sciamma, Lulu Wang, Greta Gerwig, Kasi Lemmons and Lorene Scafaria (to name a few) all directing acclaimed cinema in the last calendar year, it seems ridiculous that the Academy continues to refuse to acknowledge their triumphs; it is easy to see why viewers are less keen to watch the spectacle than ever before. The Oscars’ preference for a particular style of film continued to pervade in this year’s ceremony. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Joker, The Irishman and 1917’s popularity is symbolic of the types of films that seem to appear in nominations time and time again – films that portray the male experience and lack female dialogue seem to dominate the Oscars to an almost unfathomable extent. This inner circle of success eliminates other genres of film that do not conform to this ideal, the most notable genre snub being
horror. Horror films are among some of the most innovative cinema available to consume in the present moment, drawing universal appeal from audiences. Us and Midsommar were two of 2019’s most popular releases with audiences and critics alike, but both received no recognition from the Academy other than a reference in Janelle Monae’s performance. The snubbing of Midsommar marks the second Ari Aster fan favourite to go unacknowledged by the Academy, with Hereditary receiving the same treatment last year. In catering to such a specific audience with their nominations, the Academy shoots themselves in the foot by creating an event that does not appeal to a wider film community.
“Films that portray the male experience and lack female dialogue seem to doinate the Oscars”
This year’s Oscars were full of political messages. From Brad Pitt’s impeachment jab to Joaquin Phoenix’s plea for veganism, many of the winners chose to incorporate their personal political philosophies into their speeches, and it’s a tactic that seems to divide audiences. While many see the importance of raising awareness for issues such as global warming, equality and the current political climate, there are individuals that argue that the Oscars are no place for politics. One twitter keyword search showcases a plethora of people refusing to watch the ‘propaganda’ of the award ceremony. No matter how you feel about political engagement in speeches, it is a deal breaker for many former viewers. Once a symbol of creative innovation, the Oscars have become the epicentre of division in Hollywood. For an institution of this stature to have reached the point of its audience questioning its necessity is mind blowing, but understandable given its stubbornness and refusal to bring itself into line with the expectations of the 21st century. If it were to develop past its commercially driven desires, perhaps it could once again present itself as the most glamourous night in film.
Friday 21st February 2020
The Soothsayer Simpsons? TV Critic Emily Faithful argues that The Simpsons’ ‘predictions’ aren’t prophesies, but rather important warnings about social issues Emily Faithful Television Critic
Ay Caramba! The Simpsons have done it again. These days, The Simpsons seems to have more episodes than it does viewers. However, its success has been big enough that even amongst young people, the American nuclear family is a household name with a huge legacy in comedy and popular culture. Its other legacy, more unexpectedly, is its seeming ability to predict the future. This raised a lot of questions when Donald Trump won the American election – although probably not as many questions as the election result rose itself – as Trump’s presidency had been referred to 16 years earlier in the episode ‘Bart to the Future.’ The episode’s writer, Dan Greaney, said this was intended as ‘a warning to America.’ The Simpsons’ societal observations, sources of the satirical humour the show is famous for, perhaps deserve more than a quick chuckle, given that many of them are apparent prophecies of things that, it
turns out, aren’t that funny in real life. Some say it has happened again. Whether an episode in which Springfield residents order juicers from Japan, infected with ‘Osaka flu’ by the factory worker who boxed them, counts as a prediction of the recent coronavirus outbreak is questionable. What we face today in 2020 does not yet have a vaccine, but it is not the first time this has happened. In 2012 there was the Middle East respiratory syndrome – also a coronavirus. From 2013, there was the Ebola virus epidemic. In 1707, there was the Great Smallpox epidemic. It seems impossible that the world will never face the spread of another virus, so to say plainly that it will face another is barely a prediction. The outbreak of ‘Osaka flu’ acts as a plot device and, indeed, it cannot be intended as a warning to the extent of Trump’s episode since there are virus epidemics just about yearly. But it is still important as commentary - the episode first mentions the power of advertising, and then suggests that regulation and government can be as strict as it likes, but it’s still enforced and practised by
human beings who, as The Simpsons writers seemed to suggest over and over again, are basically idiots. The show’s famous cynicism promotes an attitude of care and attentiveness which, it suggests, does not exist where it needs to. The recipe for making a successful prediction is having a common-sense point about a glaring contradiction, problem or inconsistency and then considering what would happen if this was not dealt with. For a writer on The Simpsons, these kinds of observations are crucial for making the wild episodes the show is known for. One would hope that it was also part of the job description of a politician, but the bias and rivalry evident throughout politics means that this is often not the case. It appears that cynicism and neuroticism are needed to keep bad things from happening. On the surface, however, these are not particularly reassuring qualities for a leader to have, so often this attitude is not the path to success in the way that confidence can be. Hence, it seems that we live in a world where writers of a cartoon, lacking any agenda other than honest old comedy, are more aware of, or even concerned by, the dangers in society than those with the power to draw attention to them. Should the world be run by television writers? Probably not. The ambition to prevent and manage inevitabilities has just as much value as recognising the inevitabilities themselves and, by definition, when we get this,
we often won’t know about it. Nonetheless, the fact that these insights keep coming true suggests that we are on the same trajectory we were when these episodes were made. In 1994 there was an episode which included a horsemeat scandal. They even predicted the existence of a three-eyed fish near a nuclear facility 20 years before this was confirmed. Whatever changes we need to make aren’t happening.The Simpsons may satirise the state of the world, but it doesn’t offer any clear alternatives, like a communist revolution or anarchist revolt. Instead, it promotes critical thinking which, in a democratic society, is vital, and unlikely to be emphasised by politicians.
“The fact that these insights keep coming true, suggests that we are on the same trajectory we were when these episodes were made” Of course, democracy is complicated. We’re comprised of people with different biases, values, traditions and voting strategies, which result in a government could be anything from ideal for the majority to the lesser of two evils, to having one desirable policy. In all, The Simpsons makes predictions any logical person could have made with the same information (apart from the mass of the Higgs Boson in 1998, which was pretty weird), hence there is value in seeking that information. What is far more difficult is stopping these things happening. Living in a house of five is complicated, imagine the complexity of living on a planet of billions.
Web Series of the Week: Soft White Underbelly Sofina Younis Television Critic
Soft White Underbelly is an aesthetically pleasing web series that is bursting at the seams with life stories from a fresh new angle. The acclaimed photographer Mark Laita created this series, which is available on YouTube for the public to access easily. He outlines his goals for the series within his introductory video where he states that ‘if we’re going to change our country then we’re gonna need to understand why it’s broken.’ This
empathetic perspective towards his interviewees presents arguably the most honest portrayal of their lived experiences to the viewer. The appeal of Soft White Underbelly has to be the diversity demonstrated through the videos, including topics ranging from the life stories of war veterans to sex workers. By including a diverse range of interviewees, Mark Laita manages to represent a large majority of people, showing life experiences that one can relate to and feel empathetic towards. Even on videos that could be considered
‘taboo,’ such as those which focus on paedophiles and rapists, there seems to be an audience in the comment section which feels sympathy and even empathy for the interviewees. It is interesting to watch these ‘taboo’ topic videos from an outsider’s perspective and view these people through a nonjudgmental lens. Videos that would probably appeal to the majority of casual watchers would most likely be the episodes where Laita focuses on mental health issues, addictions, alcoholism, and home-
The Simpsons Predictions: ‘Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish’ (1990) Bart discovers a three-eyed fish near the nuclear power plant like one discovered in Argentina in 2011
‘Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song’ (1994) The meat is made from ‘assorted horse parts’ like the horsemeat scandal in 2013 ‘Marge in Chains’ (1993) The ‘Osaka Flu’ outbreak is similar to the coronavirus ‘Lisa’s Wedding’ (1995) Characters use a smartwatch 20 years before the Apple Watch is released ‘When You Dish Upon a Star’ (1998) Disney buys 20th Century Fox which ended up happening in 2017 ‘Bart to the Future’ (2000) The episode predicts Trump’s Presidency ‘The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace’ (1998) The Higgs Boson equation is seen on a blackboard
Content Warning: This article contains mention of sexual abuse and addiction which some readers may find distressing.
lessness. As Mark Laita prefers to focus on gaining insight on a person through their gained life experiences from childhood; his web series presents a fresh insight on people who could be considered as the ‘outsiders’ of our society. If you have been searching for a web series that will widen your mental horizons, whilst at the same time providing you with aesthetically pleasing videos, then search no further than Soft White Underbelly.
Friday 21st February 2020
No Love for Love Island Danielle Muras Television Critic
The new winter edition of Love Island has recently graced our screens, with new contestants entering the villa on a quest to find love. Yet again, millions of viewers are hooked to the ITV2 show and taking to social media to show their support for their favourite couples. Despite this hype, one has to question the premise of the show. Rather than being an opportunity to find love, Love Island instead acts as an easy way to get into the limelight and be elevated to a ‘celebrity status.’ It encapsulates society’s fascination with reality television, and how these shows now simply act as an opening to stardom. The whole premise of the show is based around people finding love, with the nation’s favourite couple claiming the crown at the end. The average age of the twelve original contestants for the most recent series is 23, with the youngest being only 20-years-old. It would be very surprising if, at this young age, contestants were desperate to find the love of their life. Not only does this send out a negative message about being single in your twenties, it also means the entire premise of the show is erroneous. Love Island is not known for producing long-lasting couples, with last seasons’ winners Amber Gill and Greg O’Shea split-
ting up just five weeks after the series ended. Previous winners, and fan favourites, Jack Fowler and Dani Dyer also split up a year after filming ceased, despite being that seasons’ most long-lasting couple. Love Island’s true intent is not to produce long-lasting loving couples, but instead to dramatise dating for entertaining television, with its contestants becoming the nation's new ‘stars.’
“Love Island’s true intent is not to produce longlasting loving couples, but instead to dramatise dating for entertaining television” Its very contestants are handpicked from across the country, with producers searching Instagram and nightclubs for a potential casting. In 2018 figures surfaced that more young people had applied to Love Island, than they had to Oxbridge, with 104,000 applications. However, only half of the final list of contestants applied, with the others being approached. These people are attractive indi-
viduals, who go onto the show to get media coverage, increase their screen presence and their social media following. This is not necessarily a bad thing, people are simply using opportunities for their own benefit, but it emphasises how reality television has become a means to an end - a claim to fame. This fame includes various television deals when they come out, such as job offers or other reality television. Last year’s contestant Maura Higgins is taking part in this year's Dancing on Ice, with past winner Jack Fowler appearing in Celebs Go Dating. Perhaps more interesting is past winners Amber Davies and Kem Cetinay stint as journalists, landing the presenting job after their win. The pair were not natural presenters, and nor in my opinion should they have been given the job. Thousands of people across the country study journalism and have worked hard on their craft, and would have been more qualified and more deserving of such a job. H o w e v e r, this goes to show the power of reality television, and
the various doors that it can open. Love Island stars now have verified social media accounts, and are truly modern-day celebrities. Maybe our fascination with reality television is down to shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians, or Big Brother. I would argue that it is without question that they now act as an opportunity to have a glamorous celebrity lifestyle. Perhaps this means that the meaning behind reality television is gone, or it could be that reality television has always been about ‘wannabe stars’ being entertaining on prime-time television. With the hype surrounding Love Island, and the millions it makes in merchandise, I doubt that it is going anywhere anytime soon.
Top TV Picks for February
Hunters Amazon Prime 21st February
Twitter/ @ BetterCallSaul Twitter/@LoveIsland
Better Call Saul-Season 5 Netflix 24th February
Review: The Stranger
TV Critic Saskia Davis argues that The Stranger is not worth obsessing over Saskia Davis Television Critic
A little on the mediocre side, yet exceptionally addictive, Netflix’s adaptation, co-produced by author Harlan Coben, of his New York Times bestseller The Stranger ventures away from the book’s U.S. based setting by delving into the world of a gritty British crime thriller. The premise of The Stranger focuses on the remarkable capacity of each of its characters to conceal potentially devastating secrets that they would pay dearly to keep secret, whilst simultaneously prying into the lives of others. Centring on the main protagonist, a middleaged suburban dad (Richard Armitage) and his encounter with the rather unthreatening yet enigmatic Stranger (Hannah JohnKamen), a devastating lie is revealed concerning his relationship with his wife Corrine (Dervla Kirwan). Alongside this very compelling and gripping main storyline, there are an abundance of convoluted side-plots involving the teenage children of the main characters, that initially imply a tempting potential connection to the main plot but eventually bear little relevance other than being expansions in content. For instance, the teens’ party comes across as far-fetched, moralizing and out-
MasterChef UK BBC One 24th February
dated regarding the behaviour of teens. The Stranger’s cast provides some winning acting talent, including Jennifer Saunders, Stephen Rea and Anthony Head. Additionally, The Stranger involves Happy Valley’s own Siobhan Finneran, this time occupying the lead detective role Johanna alongside youngster sidekick DC Wesley Ross (Kadiff Kirwan), a duo that provides an interesting yet underdeveloped dynamic through a differing age range, resulting in varying outlooks and random usage of ‘millennial’ terminology, for example, DC Wesley’s use of the word
‘shook.’ In many ways, despite being set in an ambiguous context of somewhere in northern Britain, The Stranger shares qualities with the U.S. series Big Little Lies in its claustrophobic small-town atmosphere and incessant busy-bodying of each of its characters. Other features of the crime thriller genre are strongly sustained throughout the show, including the eager anticipation of an injured witness to wake up, secrets, conspiracy, sudden and unexpected violence, institutional corruption, and the easy unravelling of a stable life as once was known to the characters. Although the show gets by on
its neat slotting into the archetypical crime thriller, its few impressive actors struggle to drag it from the quagmire of mediocrity, which is further hindered by the weaker acting of supporting roles, and the overburdened plot threads. If you have an empty day looming and fancy an easy and exciting binge, give it a go. However, although the show’s ability to perplex and tease with easy cliff-hangers explains its mysterious addictiveness, there are certainly stronger, more binge-worthy crime thrillers available on Netflix.
RuPaul's Drag Race Season 12 Netflix 29th February
Friday 21st February 2020
Play, Create, Share: Sony’s Imagination Revolution
Editor Sam Nason charts the rise, fall and possible resurgence of Sony’s groundreaking ‘Play, Create, Share’ genre Sam Nason
Gaming Editor @samjoshuanason
accessible and versatile.
7 million LittleBigPlanet levels by 2012
E3 2009 saw a big announcement from then-Sony American CEO Jack Tretton – that the ‘Play, Create Share’ tagline was never just that, and it had instead evolved into its own video game genre. Sony, it seemed, were pioneering a brand-new type of game that provided even more creative freedom and agency than that of the sandbox genre before it. Thus, the next member of the ‘Play, Create, Share’ family was introduced to the world: ModNation Racers. Released in 2010, ModNation Racers sought to match LittleBigPlanet’s accessibility and wealth of customisable tools, but for the kart-racing genre. Its vinyl aesthetic set it apart, while its highly intuitive approach to creating proved a worthy successor to LittleBigPlanet’s - in the track creation suite, for example, you could simply drive around an empty canvas as the course was constructed behind you. This, like LittleBigPlanet before it, was a user-friendly but surprisingly in-depth game that offered customisation that anyone could work. An inherent issue with the title, however, was that kart-racing was a more restrictive genre than platforming – once initial innovations had been made or tracks from other titles had been re-created, what new things were there to create? ModNation Racers’s concept was every bit as
ambitious as that of LittleBigPlanet, yet the inherent limitations with its genre meant it had far less scope. It was clear that, in order to push the concept of ‘Play, Create, Share’ to the next level, its next title would have to possess transcendental qualities, acting as a platform for all kinds of creation. 2011 saw the release of LittleBigPlanet 2, widely regarded as the best in the franchise. Media Molecule proudly proclaimed you could make ‘anything you can imagine, from racing games and shooters, to movies and music’ on the back of the game case – the all-encompassing package every LittleBigPlanet fan had been dreaming of. Obviously the means to create these types of games stemmed from LittleBigPlanet’s platform-focused engine – but with some work and initiative, it was entirely possible to create impressive levels in any number of genres. LittleBigPlanet 2 offered a host of new objects, gizmos and materials to create with – but the largest innovation in the sequel was that of ‘logic’. This was basically LittleBigPlanet’s answer to coding; by stringing together multiple gadgets and connecting them throughout the stage, you could produce highly sophisticated devices and sequences within your levels. You could make the arena transform once the player has fulfilled a certain condition; create RPG-esque menus and shop systems; or even direct a film populated entirely by Sackpeople. The arrival of logic was what gave LittleBigPlanet 2 its versatile qualities and the refinement and finesse of some creators’ levels is impressive. LittleBigPlanet 2 appeared to be the pinnacle of what the series could achieve, having transcended its platforming roots and receiv-
ing updates for the next few years. PlayStation Vita versions of LittleBigPlanet and ModNation Racers would attempt to establish themselves as the ‘definitive’ versions of their respective franchises but, due to the Vita’s relatively low sales, they drifted into obscurity. The next few years would see confused progress for the ‘Play, Create, Share’ genre. In an odd move, March 2012 saw the announcement of LittleBigPlanet Karting, a game which promised to be ‘more than a ModNation Racers game starring Sackboy.’ Admittedly, the game contained some new modes and the familiar look of the LittleBigPlanet UI – but nothing was achieved that couldn’t have been by a sequel to ModNation Racers. The implicit message was quite clear – that Sony anticipated LittleBigPlanet was their best foot forward for whatever came next in ‘Play, Create, Share.’ Nintendo
No three words better define my experience with the PlayStation 3 than ‘Play, Create, Share.’ Originally a tagline for one of the console’s flagship series, the slogan quickly became its own brand before descending into relative obscurity. Regardless, the concept of endless replayability and imagination was one that I, as a preteen, was utterly fascinated with. So how did this ‘Play, Create, Share’ movement begin – and how did it fall off? Its first mention was as the tagline of Media Molecule’s LittleBigPlanet, released in 2008. A pioneer of user-created content, the game embodied the three verbs to their fullest extent. LittleBigPlanet foremost offered a sizeable single player experience, bounding and running through various challenging stages in beautifully colourful environments. Crucially these levels were made with the tools offered in the game’s own Create Mode, fulfilling the second part of LittleBigPlanet’s mantra. I’ve written briefly about this mode before but no amount of writing can do this wonderful, intuitive and imaginative portion of the game justice. The game delivers unlimited potential with its array of tools and customisable settings. The ability to share these levels, either locally or with the world, was imperative to LittleBigPlanet’s success. A game with 55 single-player levels soon became one with well over six million once connected to the internet. Hours of my time were dedicated to playing with friends to conquer masterfully made challenges. Of course, LittleBigPlanet was not the first game to employ a focus on customisation, but it was certainly one of the most
Sackboy is the
50th most recognised gaming character
The game that would prove to be the genre’s swansong was LittleBigPlanet 3, releasing for both the PS3 and PS4. Most striking about its announcement at E3 2014 was that developer Media Molecule had handed the reigns to Sumo Digital for this third instalment. Though obvious disappointment followed, many could understard Media Molecule’s decision. The developers had been rather vocal about wanting to develop outside
of the LittleBigPlanet series since the second game and having a fresh developer work on the third may have combatted any franchise fatigue Media Molecule were feeling. Despite apprehension, however, initial gameplay looked promising; more space in every level, extended creation tools, and the introduction of three new character types, all with defining characteristics and abilities, looked to reignite the snoozing Craftworld from its slumber. There looked like there was a lot to be excited for in this expansive, innovative and accessible title. Many will agree that what doomed LittleBigPlanet 3 was the buggy and lacking quality it was released in. Its story mode was short and lacked the replay value and charm of past games. Save data frequently corrupted, meaning hours of hard work could be lost seemingly at random, and playing online with friends (something the previous two titles prided themselves on) was almost an impossibility with the poor matchmaking and sporadic online system. Couple these problems with an overly ambitious arsenal of creative tools that left some casual players alienated and LittleBigPlanet 3 contributed towards the series’ dwindle as opposed to its resurgence. While the franchise has since lay dormant, original creators Media Molecule have been busy developing an all-new game creation tool, Dreams, which released last week. Judging by projects created in its beta, it will champion imagination and versatility as its predecessors had before it. ‘Play, Create, Share’ lives on, and it will continue to do so while there are curators who wish to do all three.
Friday 21st February 2020
Redbrick's five big releases for the following month
It’s Time to Escape the Sims-Ulation
When I was thirteen, I was addicted to the lives of my Sims; I’d spend days at school thinking about what house I’d make or what to name the next baby. This fixation got to the point where I decided to quit the g a m e entirely.
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon DX (06/03)
Ori and the Will of the Wisps (11/03)
“The Sims... is possibly the most prevalent form of escapism in our society”
Even more baffling, plenty of YouTubers have filmed their experience on The Sims. Even Zalfie, one of the iconic YouTube couples of the mid-2010s, filmed their own Sims series. Although these videos can be entertaining when played for laughs, watching them adds a new layer of escapism as the viewer isn’t even playing the game. Plumbella, a gaming YouTuber, uploads a new video about The Sims every few days. If Sims 5 goes ahead with the rumoured multiplayer function, this could help players leave behind the isolating world of The Sims by interacting with their friends through the game. However, The Sims remains a twisted form of escapism within our society.
“Perhaps this is where the attraction of The Sims lies; it’s our lives without any of the difficulty”
It turns out that I’m not the In The Sims, we get the veronly one who had this experience, sion of reality that millennials and as a Reddit feed about quitting Gen Z were promised but may not games such as The Sims sounds be able to achieve. In the real like an Alcoholic Anonymous world, only one in four young support group. The difference people will be on the property ladbetween these experiences and der by 2026, whereas, in The Sims my own are that they were had by only a little bit of work can get adults with children to look after, you an open-plan kitchen, three and bills to pay. bedrooms and a pool. Perhaps this is where the The Sims is a common topic attraction of The Sims lies; it’s our amongst psychologists as it is lives without any of the difpossibly the most prevalent ficulty. The game itself form of escapism in our was born out of a society. While Steve moment of escapism. McKeown, owner of Creator Will Wright The McKeown had the idea for a Clinic, sings its game where the praises as a coping million downloads player can build strategy, there is a for expansions to homes after his own limit to how nourThe Sims 4 house burnt down in ishing The Sims can a fire. In a position of be. We can all benefit emotional turmoil, from a healthy amount Wright was fascinated of escapism but The Sims’ about why people buy material similarity to reality ultimately objects as a form of fulfilment. causes it to further millennial anxThis led to a strange vision for the iety. In a 2018 YouGov study, world of The Sims where every- 74% of people have experienced thing can fall into place: if you overwhelming stress. When so want your sims to earn money, many young adults feel anxiety you can get them to work for about their lives, no wonder so hours on end; if you want two many of us crave the blissful sims to fall in love, you can boredom of The Sims. manipulate their personalities so they correspond to one another; and every aspect of their homes and bodies is easily changed with a click.
Nioh 2 (13/03)
This month The Sims turned 20 and my Facebook feed is now filled with posts about The Sims 5 and its possible multiplayer function. Before we launch into the absurdly mundane world of The Sims once again, it is interesting to examine exactly what the game offers us. It functions as a peculiar form of escapism in which the player regresses into a version of reality where everything is easily laid out and void of fulfilment. For the past two decades, The Sims has expanded to become an extensive universe. The game is a reflection of our society in which the sims use Simoleons for their currency and speak the language of Simlish. With each instalment and expansion pack, The Sims’ world grows such as The Sims 2: Pets pack which brought animals into the world. Now on its fourth instalment, the game has responded to the zeitgeist by altering their gender settings, so now the players can create non-binary sims. All forms of entertainment can provide a level of escapism and gaming is no exception. Most games provide a rewarding competitive nature or a nalluring fictional world. In contrast, The Sims allows players to enter into a world that e e r i l y
resembles their own. It is peculiar that there can be anything rewarding in trying to escape the monotonous world of careers, mortgages and marriage by entering into a world that revolves around these modern anxieties. Certain expansion packs of The Sims provide a supernatural side to the game such as The Sims 4: Vampires. However, most players spend their time getting their sims to empty their bladders and save up Simoleons to buy a new model of furniture.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons (20/03)
TV Editor Catrin Osborne puts the alluring escapism of The Sims under the microscope
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Friday 21st February 2020
Cookies in the Cosmos
Sci&Tech Editor Francesca Benson plates up the news of the first batch of interterrestrial treats, fresh from the ISS Francesca Benson Sci&Tech Editor
When someone m e n t i o n s food in space, most people will probably think of the pre-packaged a n d freeze-dried options famously ‘enjoyed’ by astronauts. However, there may soon be fresher
options available to those in orbit. This is thanks to an experiment involving the first food baked i n space, which could end up giving the term ‘space cake’ a whole new meaning. Taking place aboard the International Space Station (ISS), this culinary experiment was performed by astronauts Christina Koch and Luca Parmitano. Using an electric oven built by Zero G Kitchen and Nanoracks that was launched into space in November, pre-made chocolate chip cookie dough provided by DoubleTree by Hilton was baked in five onecookie batches. This dough is
stated by the company to cook at would come out of the oven look300 degrees Fahrenheit for 16-18 i n g spherical, however it minutes, however in space this w a s shown that the cookwas definitely not the case. i e s baked aboard the ISS Even after 25 minutes, the first looked pretty similar cookie the astroto those baked on nauts attempted to Earth. bake at 300 degrees Unfortunately, turned out very underwe are yet to find baked. out how these A secout-ofond attempt thisHolmesPJ was left in world the oven for treats 75 minutes, taste. and although After making their still not way back to Earth on baked to a the 7th of January satisfactory via the SpaceX standard, reportedly Dragon spacecraft, released a delicious t h e cookies were sent to HolmesPJ cookie scent into the undergo testing by food ISS. Success was s c i e n - tists to find out more f i n a l l y about the cookies and determine f o u n d whether they are edible. One w i t h the cookie is even being offered for fourth and fifth display purposes cookies. The fourth to the cookie was baked Smithsonian for 120 minutes National Air and and left Space Museum by the comto cool pany that made the dough. for 25, Doubletree by Hilton have whereas stated that this experiment HolmesPJ could help ‘make long-dufor the fifth cookie the oven was ration space flight more cranked up to 325 hospitable,’ reminding degrees and baked astronauts of the ‘simple for a whopping 130 min- joys of home.’ Hopefully, these utes, with 10 minutes of cookies will be the first of many cooling time. It was thought fresh tasty snacks to accompany by some that due to the zero- humanity on our journey into the gravity conditions the cookies cosmos.
Food of the Fortnight: Pancakes Food&Drink Writer Cerys Gardner equips us with a student-friendly pancake recipe Cerys Gardner Food&Drink Writer
Pancake day is coming up, and you may be wondering how to create your own. This is my tried and tested family recipe for pancake batter (and it doubles as Yorkshire pudding batter too!) I’ve never counted how many pancakes it makes but it’s definitely a lot; if you have batter left over you can cover the bowl and put it in the fridge to use the next day. Also by a mug, I mean a standard size coffee/tea mug, which makes this recipe student friendly because you don’t need scales! Ingredients: 1 Mug Flour 1 Mug Milk 1 Mug Eggs (about 5 or 6) Oil/Fry Light
3. Cook until the batter has solidified, then flip over (either with a spatula or by tossing it). 4. Continue cooking until the bottom is golden brown, then slide onto a plate. Toppings ideas: Classic - lemon and sugar, even better with fresh lemon. Nutella and fruit - spread some Nutella or equivalent hazelnut spread, and place on your fruit. The best fruits for this are raspberries, strawberries and bananas. Crushed up Kitkat - simply crush the Kitkat with your hands (or a rolling pin) and sprinkle on. Maple syrup - this is great with blueberries or bacon. Savoury - ham and cheese, grilled veg e.g. mushrooms or tomatoes.
Method: 1. Mix together the flour, milk and eggs in a bowl, ideally with a whisk. 2. Heat a small amount of oil/ fry light in a pan and pour in the pancake mix, as much as you want - depending how thick you like your pancakes.
Recipe: Beat the Blues Risotto Food&Drink Writer Georgina Henderson gives us a taste of her easy but oh-so cosy chicken and pesto risotto Georgina Henderson Food&Drink Writer
This easy risotto is my go-to for comfort food in the winter and uses up all the staples in my fringe and cupboard. If you are cooking for one you can simply heat this up in the microwave later on in the week, adding a dollop of pesto and some cheese to thicken it up. To make this the ultimate dish, it should be accompanied with some garlic bread and a large glass of dry white wine! Ingredients (Serves 4): Splash of olive oil 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 large (or 2 small) skinless chicken breasts, diced into small cubes 350g Arborio rice 1L hot vegetable stock (made with a stock cube) 100g frozen peas 75g pesto 35g butter (room temperature) 50g grate cheese (extra mature cheddar is best) Method: 1. Place a medium heavybased pan over a medium heat, pour in the oil and fry the onions for 4 minutes stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the garlic and stir. Then add the diced chicken and continue to fry for another 2 minutes until the chicken is sealed. 2. Add the rice and continue to cook for a further 2 minutes, stir-
ring continuously, allowing the rice to toast in the olive oil. The rice should be slightly golden, don’t let it burn on the bottom of the pan. 3. Pop the kettle on and make your stock. 4. Pour in a couple of ladles of stock into the pan and bring to a simmer. Stir and let the stock absorb. 5. Continue to cook, adding a little at a time, stirring often, allowing the rice to absorb the stock before adding more. Stay with the pan and keep stirring (this is the key!) 6. Slowly add the rest of the stock. It will take about 15/17 minutes and you may not need to add all the stock. You know it is ready when the stock begins to absorb slower. 7. Add the peas towards the
end of this process. 8. Once the rice is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pesto, butter and cheese. Stir the rest of the ingredients into the rice quickly for at least 30 seconds – this creates a lovely creamy texture. 9. Season well with salt & pepper and serve!
Friday 21st February 2020
The Rise of Food Delivery Services Food&Drink Writer Bethany Carter dishes the dirt on the food delivery industry, exposing its effect on the traditional high street takeaway Bethany Carter Food&Drink Writer
Picture this: you are lying in bed, watching Netflix after a long day of seminars and lectures. Having to leave your bed at all sounds completely unappealing, and especially the thought of standing in your cold kitchen to cook dinner. Instead, you open your JustEat app and order your favourite Chinese takeaway. Sound familiar?
“The rise of food delivery services is at its ultimate peak, earning a whopping £4.2 billion in 2018 alone within the UK” That is because the rise of food delivery services is at its ultimate peak, earning a whopping £4.2 billion in 2018 alone within the UK. The impact that this has on consumers and local restaurant owners alike is shock-
ing, especially when taking into consideration the amount of money we spend in total on takeaways a year. With the increase of busy work schedules, later lecture times and even attending late society gatherings, cooking your own dinner becomes more of a dreadful chore that you want to avoid, especially when you want to get to bed as soon as possible. This is where the convenience of food delivery services comes into play. This could be the biggest reason why the rise in popularity of these apps has been so dramatic over the recent years. JustEat, Deliveroo and UberEats are all at the touch of your fingertips and allow the possibility of your food being ordered within minutes. Due to such convenience, less people are cooking at home, which can be especially damaging to our bank accounts as students. The impact of the rise of food delivery services also affects owners of your local takeaway shops. Affecting those who have not given into the trend of joining these delivery services, or who simply cannot have their restaurant offered on these sites due to limited staff. Fewer people are likely to go to these takeaways now, unlike when we were younger and our parents would bring us back a takeaway as our Saturday
night treat! This is affecting the amount of business received by the local takeaways. I spoke with a local restaurant owner of an establishment called Chilli Peppers in Birmingham, who mentioned that the ‘15% commission taken by JustEat’ does make a significant difference, especially when most orders from the restaurant come from JustEat. Also mentioned was the ‘excessive amount of phone complaints during peak times’ as customers ask about late deliveries when there are too many orders for smaller businesses to handle.
“Although many of us are secretly guilty of relying on these services for our meals a lot of the time, more consideration should be taken” Although many of us are secretly guilty of relying on these services for our meals a lot of the time, more consideration should be taken with just how much we
should use these apps. The money saved from excessive takeawaybinging could be put aside into a savings account to treat yourself at the end of the year! Health is also a major factor to consider when using delivery servi c e s . Consumers will usually choose the tastier, rather than healthier, option. So, take on the challenge. See how long you can last without being tempted by the free UberEats delivery promotion or the 10% off JustEat. Go to your local supermarket, stock up your freezer with cheaper but equally yummy food, and support your smaller local takeaways
when you feel the need to indulge!
Britain’s Haunted High Streets
Food&Drink Writer Eleanor Howson takes us behind the scenes of the British takeaway industry, revealing the truth about how our Friday-night treats are made Eleanor Howson Food&Drink Writer
With students spending approximately four times the amount of money on takeaways in comparison to any other citizen in Britain, you would presume that students would be the most aware of where food deliveries are sourced from. Yet, I imagine when they order from Deliveroo, UberEats or JustEat they picture their meals being prepared in a restaurant... not a ghost kitchen! So, what is a ghost kitchen, you may ask? It is a kitchen designed solely for food deliveries which can be located as far away from the high street as an industrial estate or a car park. They aim to assist the growth of restaurants by providing a lowcost alternative to working from a high street store. Deliveroo, specifically, have contended that they pay for the bills of their ghost kitchens. This means that the restau-
rants cooking at Deliveroo’s ghost kitchens pay no rent, rates or utilities. Although, the restaurants do pay some commission to Deliveroo on each order, it is still identifiable that the ghost
“Is the value of socialising through food decreasing? Is eating out becoming less significant?” kitchens make the catering business far more accessible to up and coming restaurants. However, the working conditions of these ghost kitchens may not be quite as desirable. Sarah
Butler, a journalist for The Guardian, visited Deliveroo ghost kitchens in a carpark in Blackwell near Canary Wharf, London. Butler described the ghost kitchens as ‘metal boxes of a similar size to a shipping container’ with no windows. The only ventilation the restaurants had were the doors. The chefs described the working conditions to Butler as either too cold or too hot. Each metal box only had one small heater to keep them warm if the cooking equipment wasn’t making the container hot enough already. Iss this how you imagined your takeaway to start its journey? Probably not. However, Dan Warne, Deliveroo’s UK and Ireland managing director, has said to The Guardian that ‘Roobox kitchens are clean, hygienic and checked by the Food Standards Agency.’ With restaurants setting up shop in metal boxes, without the intention of serving customers on their premises, is the value of socialising through food decreasing? Is eating out becoming less significant? As a student
myself, I know eating out is quite the treat as, the weekly budget cannot stretch to fine dining all the time! But, perhaps, takeaways are now becoming an easier option than going out for a meal? We all feel like a chilled night in watching a film with a takeaway pizza from time to time. Perhaps, the idea of having to get dressed up and brave the typical rainy British weather, just to eat PublicDomainVectors out, is no longer so exciting for students? The fact that takeaways can be just as cheap as home cooking nowadays is merely another reason to stay in the comfort of your home. Yet, isn’t it a little melancholic to think the high street could slowly become just another row of houses? All our food could come from metal boxes and be delivered to our door. Ghost kitchens do seem to be just as eerie as their name suggests. They seem to be out of sight and out of mind. Next PublicDomainVectors time you press order, think about where your meal may be travelling from. It may be coming out from the shadows!
Friday 21st February 2020
Expectation vs Reality: Fiji
Esther Purves describes how her volunteering experience in Fiji gave her an insight into the voluntourism industry Esther Purves Travel Writer
In December of 2018, in the ground floor lecture theatre of the Murray Learning Centre, I was sold the ultimate travel dream. A fourweek work and travel placement in the heart of Fiji that following summer. The ultimate bucket list destination. The Pacific Island Dream. Immediately, I signed up, booked my flights and began boring my friends with daily choruses of ‘have I told you I’m going to Fiji?’ I believed that I was going to make a difference. I was helping to develop the curriculum. I was working in partnership with the Fijian government; the stamp of approval that justified my placement in a primary school. I was volunteering, so it could only be good. Expectation versus reality. As my first week in Fiji grew into four, my frustrations built. Guilt set it in as I walked to school every day. The placement was wrong. This is what people meant when they threw around ‘voluntourism’. In light of what I learnt about white saviourism, here are three things I wish I’d considered before going on placement in Fiji. A four-week placement on the other side of the world sounds
frighteningly long, but can a curriculum really be transformed in one month? My placement, like many others, have training, travel and rest periods meaning that the placement structure had only scheduled in three weeks of volunteering. This already limited time got cut short on my arrival to Vatulele Island; the school was closed as pupils were on the mainland for an inter-school tournament. This left two and a half weeks to achieve everything the company claimed that we would.
“This placement was not designed to have a sustainable impact” A four-week placement does not translate to four weeks of volunteering. To assume that we could sustainably develop the curriculum in two and a half weeks is arrogant and selfish. At this point, the placement becomes more for the volunteer than the pupils.
If I had researched the placement structure before committing to my placement in Fiji, I could have discovered what I learnt seven months later on the project. This placement was not designed to have a sustainable impact. The roles of the volunteers were to work in person with the pupils; supporting them one on one with English and Maths skills or running sports sessions in the afternoon. The pupils loved the sports sessions in particular and they flourished in the English and Maths sessions. But what was going to happen when I left? The placement structured total curriculum development to lie with the volunteers and was devoid of any teacher/ student collaboration. The company sang its own praises of sustainability, but there was no evidence of this in the placement. Their answer to this was to have us write up sports plans on A4 sheets of paper and hand them into the headteacher. The hope that teachers would use these is highly unrealistic considering that we ran sports sessions that are unfamiliar to Fijian culture. However, perhaps the most laughable company decision was that the teaching resources we had brought from the UK were taken back from the school on our
departure. How were the pupils supposed to improve? Any new skills we had taught the children left with us, and I walked out of those school gates knowing that tomorrow it would be exactly the way I’d found it. Voluntourism programmes all have a specific focus; education, social mobility, project work, conservation. The people that are targeted to volunteer, likely students, are unlikely to specialise in any of these fields and therefore, they need training. Fair enough. But how much training does the programme give? After three hours of training on how to educate primary pupils (notably from someone who wasn’t a teacher), the leaders of my placement were satisfied that we’d be able to educate students. How does three hours of training equip me to provide the education that these students deserve? We need to be self-critical; do I have the skill set to partake in this placement to a high standard? If the answer is no, ask yourself- will I be provided with the skill set to complete this placement to a high standard? If the answer is no, the programme isn’t right. There is a huge double standard when it comes to the expectation of education standards. If
unqualified students came into primary schools in the UK with the intention of developing school curriculum, there would be uproar. Why won’t we provide pupils in developing countries with the education that we would expect to receive?
“The label 'volunteer' doesn't mean that you'll make a difference” Volunteer placements sound fantastic on the surface. They seem like the perfect marriage between exploring the world and giving back. But the label ‘volunteer’ doesn’t mean that you’ll make a difference. It doesn’t even make you a volunteer. If you’re looking to volunteer this summer, think critically about the placement and your own capabilities. Invest the money you would spend on the experience in a charity that you’re passionate about. Research voluntourism and it’s racist undertones. Make sure that you don’t do more harm than good. Make sure you’re not a white saviour.
Friday 21st February 2020
72 Hours in NYC during the Off-Season Emily Faithful Travel Writer
April is an ideal time to visit New York City. The weather is just as dull as it is in the UK, which means there is a good chance of rain, and the potential that it’s too foggy to climb some of the famous high-rise buildings, but exploring NYC in April means avoiding the crowds. You can take your pick when it comes to tourist attractions, and you’ll probably pay a little less. Spending 72 hours in NYC last Easter break, was enough to convince me that it’s one of best places I’ve ever visited, and I usually don’t like cities. New York is for everyone; it’s undoubtably home to something you’ve always wanted to see, being setting of countless TV shows. Fitting a visit into a mere 3 days seems impossible, but you can make the most of your weekend break. Get your MetroCard and get on the Subway. Here’s what not to miss:
“Spending 72 hours in NYC ... was enough to convince me that it's one of the best places I’ve ever visited ” Central Park cycling For a first-time visit, it’s all about Manhattan and the park is a great way to get a feel for the city’s most visited borough. The most memorable experience I had in
New York City was renting a bike in Central Park. There were talks of taking a ride in one of the park’s famous horse-drawn carriages, but bikes were much cheaper. And they’re probably a lot more fun. Central Park is home to and surrounded by many famous sites such as John Lennon’s memorial garden, Strawberry Fields (also the Dakota building, where he was shot), and the Guggenheim art museum, designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. You’ll even go past The Plaza hotel, the setting of Home Alone 2 (if you find an unguarded door, you can get a quick look inside). There is no better way to see so many tourist destinations in such a short amount of time than via Central Park’s well-maintained cycle tracks. 9/11 Memorial and Wall Street The iconic twin towers have been replaced with the biggest memorial fountains you’ve ever seen; water seems to flow into an abyss. The adjacent museum allows for an informative but sombre visit. To lift your spirits, admire the One World Trade Center, the tallest building in New York, and walk around Wall Street, home of the New York Stock Exchange. Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty A trip to New York wouldn’t be complete without a look at the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of the city and, perhaps, of America. While a trip onto the islands themselves offers audio tours and museums, this takes time and money. A look inside at Ellis Island’s architecture is worthwhile, but another option, especially for those who find themselves bored
by museum-style attractions, is a drive-by on the Staten Island Ferry. This ferry is free (don’t get scammed) and runs regularly throughout the day. At sea you get the best views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan Skyline. Avoiding peak times is advised – people use this ferry to get to and from work! Since all passengers have to disembark the ferry at Staten Island, it may be worth planning something to do there, like a trip to the zoo, Fort Wadsworth (a fort used in the Revolutionary War) or the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach. If you’d prefer a smaller boat, try an NYC Ferry for a $2.75 one-way ticket. These will take you to Staten Island, as well as between the boroughs of Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn (although only the Staten Island trips allow a view of Lady Liberty). Bar SixtyFive at Rainbow Room Situated in the Rockefeller centre, one floor below Top of the Rock, Bar SixtyFive, offering a 360degree view of the Manhattan skyline, is a cheaper, less busy alternative to the Empire State Building. In the words of the NYPD police officer who moonlighted as our airport pickup, ‘it’s way cheaper and you get the exact same view, apart from you can actually see the Empire State Building.’ Just make sure you get a reservation and look up the dress code. Hudson Yards If you’ve already been to NYC or seen the famous tourist destinations in movies so many times that you’re over it all, Hudson Yards is a modern alternative.
It’s a neighbourhood, home to skyscrapers, a brand-new mall and a few architectural structures, like The Shed (also an art centre) and Vessel (an observatory deck also known as The Shawarma). Times Square The night is the best time to see the bright lights of Times Square. Adjacent to the theatres of Broadway as well as the Radio City Music Hall, you can view all the signage you could want in a matter of minutes. If you get tired of being advertised at, you can make your way to the Brooklyn Bridge Park, to get an unforgettable view of the iconic bridge and the skyline, all from the waterfront. Food The Big Apple is famous for a diverse range of foods, which reflect its multiculturality. Breakfast can be a bagel of your choosing, made in a shop with a counter which looks like it’s for ice cream. A dollar slice (of pizza) or a pastrami sandwich will sustain your appetite throughout a busy day. If you need a snack, there are the honey-roasted nuts sold by street vendors (only the allergic can refuse that sweet smell). For dessert, Carmine’s Italian Restaurant offers an extensive, almost sickening range of cheesecakes, which you can also take away. A popular base for business, it’s getting easier by the year to get to NYC from London, with prices down to around £200 and record flight times of just over 5 hours (Boeing predict that soon it will be done in just 2 hours). If you can manage a weekend break this April, New York City is the place to go.
The Highs and Lows of Staying with Family Madison HardingWhite Travel Writer
Many of us have big dreams to travel the world- to scuba dive in Langford Island; to eat freshly made arancini in Sicily; to explore the multicoloured buildings of Faro. But the one thing that always gets in in way? Money. We all know that by the time we’ve added up the flights, food, trips and trains we are looking at a hefty sum- and that’s before we’ve even thought about accommodation. That can lead to many of us to look for ways to cut corners- so if our travel companions have family abroad, this could involve staying with them. Staying with ‘family’ that isn’t my family is something I’m wellseasoned to: when half your partners family live in France and the rest are dotted around Italy, it comes with the package. For example, last summer I spent three weeks between Marsala, Rome and Abruzzo, with our time split between staying with Matteo’s different family members. This trip admittedly wasn’t motivated by money saving, but rather as an opportunity to meet his family. It was an experience which I am grateful for and one which produced many happy memories, but not one which came without its own unique challenges. Whilst I am a firmly opti-
mistic and appreciative person, I do believe it’s worth being aware of possible difficulties when choosing to stay with people of whom you don’t know very well and of whom may have very different outlooks on life. Before venturing to Italy, I had only met Matteo’s father once during his previous short trip to England and I had not met any of his extended Italian family. This produced a situation which was, to be quite honest, really nerve wracking: meeting new people is anxiety inducing at the best of times, let alone staying in close quarters to them (and being largely unable to communicate - I don’t speak much Italian!) If you are considering staying with a friend or partner’s family, it’s worth thinking about how you are going to deal with the possible intensity of meeting many new people at once and likely being expected to continually socialise with them, in a situation where you might not get much alone time to ‘take a breather’. There’s a unique pressure in wanting to (and knowing you’re expected to) make a good impression, even when you're exhausted from travelling or overcome by the novelty of the situation. Navigating cultural and personal differences can make it even harder - especially as you might not always be sure as to what is expected of you or if you are accidently being rude since many cultural customs are implic-
it or assumed to be obvious. A good example of a cultural difference which seems insignificant but which caused me some anxiety was the concept ‘la bise’ (kissing on/ pressing cheeks with another) in France - I never really felt sure when or where I needed to do this, even after asking, just because it was so unfamiliar to me. The debate between my own anxieties and risking coming across poorly was something I had to work hard to deal with in both France and Italy - it can all be very overwhelming. Your own experience will depend on the size of your host family, where in the world they are and whether you all share a language - you might not realise just how much your own culture is engrained in you until you try to live in another. Staying with family is lovely in many ways - I was provided with a source of company, cultural and local insight, hospitality, authentic Italian cooking produced by Matteo's lovely aunt and uncle and an invaluable experience of traditional Italian family life which I really identified with and cherished being a part of. I do think however think it’s worth considering whether a family experience is what you want from a holiday - if you are hoping for free reign, late nights and wild times then staying with family may well come up short. Staying in another’s home means integrat-
ing with their lifestyle and often living by their rules, which can be a challenge if you are used to living on your own terms or want a particularly crazy break. When staying in Sicily I did not have access to any shops due to the rural location of the family holiday home, meaning I had to get used to largely not choosing what food I ate or when I ate it. This also meant that Matteo and I could not go out beyond occasions of his family’s choosing as nowhere was reachable on foot (we can’t drive), which was also a bit difficult as it contrasted with our fully independent life together in England. Whilst it’s not particularly likely you’ll be as far-flung as we were location wise, you are likely to be less free to do whatever you want when travelling, as you are under the watchful eye of someone else’s family. With the need to maintain good guest behaviour and the possibility of unwanted judgement or comments on what you might do, I’d only
recommend staying with family if you are willing to fit around their lives rather than complete a holiday solely centred around your own adventuring ambitions. Staying with someone else’s family certainly has its charms introducing Matteo’s aunt, uncle, cousins and their partners to English culture and cooking them their first ever roast dinner is a particularly treasured memory. But I’d urge anyone thinking of staying with people who are essentially strangers to really consider how it might affect both them and their holiday - no one wants a break from their parents only to be governed by someone elses!
Friday 21st February 2020
I’m a Barbie Girl, in a Barbie World Life&Style’s Ameek Gilhotra interrogates the over-materialised dimension that toy companies attribute to the notion of ‘self-care’ and argues that they create harmful stereotypes for the younger generations Ameek Gilhotra Life&Style Writer
'Life is plastic.’ Oh, it is. As Mattel launches a ‘Breathe With Me Barbie Doll,’ a ‘Face Mask Barbie Spa Day Playset,’ a ‘Barbie Fizzy Bath Doll and Playset,’ a ‘Barbie Fitness Doll,’ a ‘Barbie Relaxation Doll,’ and a ‘Barbie Spa Doll,’ girls and boys have new places to be. Girls, boys, as well as guilty teenagers and/or adults (accused very wrongly, of course), here are your new aims for self-care, and your new idols. There is no need to follow your favourite YouTubers for pearls of wisdom, you can learn from children, or be them yourselves. Commercialisation of topics such as mental health is taking over markets rapidy and it can be argued that it is ‘selling’ an illusion of mental health that cannot be easily achieved. There is increased emphasis on the materialistic aspects of a peaceful mind. Funnily enough, did you know
that these two were never aimed to be so tightly linked as they are now?
“Mattel launches a ‘Breathe With Me Barbie Doll,’ a ‘Face Mask Barbie Spa Day Playset,’ a ‘Barbie Fizzy Bath Doll and Playset,’ a ‘Barbie Fitness Doll”
Alongside, comes the fact of money. Barbies don’t sell like peanuts, and the idea that ‘playing’ has superior forms seems absurd. There are shades of competition everywhere – are you going with your Barbie to the spa or the gym? Perhaps you should collect both, then spend your money on their memberships, and then ‘you can be your best by giving yourself the best care!’ Since when were the services of a spa and gyms so promoted for children? Moreover, these skinny dolls, with their exotic lifestyles, extensive exercising, and fairytale worlds that they inhabit, have gone past the Barbie I wanted to be, or can be. One of the playsets comes with a ‘marker that creates removable blemishes,’ and ‘accessories to play out rejuvenating facemasks
again and again.’ As you can see, there are very underlined standards of beauty.
“Commercialisation of topics such as mental health is taking over markets rapidy and it can be argued that it is ‘selling’ an illusion of mental health” The product features say ‘the themed accessories add to the storytelling fun,’ along with ‘relaxing s a l o n chairs,’ and
‘knees that bend for relaxation stories.’ I considered storytelling to be a luxury in itself – perhaps I was mistaken. And perhaps, there will not be much to mistake it for as we ‘progress’ in our processes of making toys! In addition, you have dolls which are ‘dressed in cosy loungewear,’ and who have ‘extra flexibility for realistic posing and active play.’ Did I forget to mention there were puppies? The puppies themselves have ‘a cucumber eye mask and a neck pillow,’ they can ‘find sweet dreams with a dream pillow and a sleep mask,’ and they get to exercise as well, as ‘they have a pair of weights.’ One could argue that such absurdities and attempts to glorify a specific way of living are as irrational as they are misleading. Self-care has better ways than this, especially for children. Spending time with family, or friends might be more beneficial. It might be good that the importance of mental health is laid out at a young age, but kids, be carefree! Avoid thinking too much about your bodies and play as much as you want to. You might think about skipping the dreams of the spa, or gym. They are expensive, like these Barbies.
Friday 21st February 2020
The Tattoo Taboo in the Workplace
Life&Style Writer Georgina Tate discusses why tattoos are deemed as unprofessional in the workplace, and why the attitude surrounding them needs to change Georgina Tate Life&Style Writer
In a time where we are working hard towards equality in all aspects of society, we appear to be behind with just one minority: people with tattoos. Labelling this as a minority may be incorrect, as, according to The Guardian, a fifth of all British adults have at least one tattoo. Despite this, it is still not uncommon to see people with tattoos refused work, asked to cover them up in the workplace, or asked not to get them in the first place. For this reason, the majority of tattoos are in places where an employer will never see. Temporary tattoos are also being used in order to get the experience of a tattoo, without the consequences.We now have laws in place to ensure that your race, religion, culture, sexuality or gen-
der identity cannot affect your chances of landing a job. Even though having a tattoo is seen as a choice, we can question how integrated they are to someone’s identity and could it be argued that refusing someone work for having tattoos, is an act of discrimination? Ruby, a second-year English student agrees that tattoos should not be a reason to get fired or rejected. Although, she does not have any tattoos herself, she believes that the physical attributes of a person should not be an advantage or disadvantage. Whether you have a face tattoo, no tattoos, pink hair or natural coloured hair, ‘it should be your individual skill set and only your skill set that is considered during the recruitment stage and beyond.’After graduating, like many other students, she hopes to get a job, but she would not feel that it would be fair if she was
compared to another applicant, with similar abilities, but with tattoos.
“Despite this, it is still not uncommon to see people with tattoos refused work, asked to cover them up in the workplace, or asked not to get them in the first place”
For jobs that involve working with children or a vulnerable population, it is understandable that visible tattoos that may have upsetting imagery or inappropriate words are able to be rejected. This would not be discrimination, as the safety of children or a vulnerable population is the priority. Yet, if a carer, for example, had a small elephant tattoo on their wrist, no one is going to view that carer any differently, or receive a different level of care. Face tattoos seem to have a particular stigma attached to them. The reason behind this may only be because the face is the least common place on the body to get a tattoo. In customer service jobs, it is common to see that face tattoos, or all visible tattoos, are banned as part of the uniform policy. A reasoning behind this is because the company wants to maintain a professional reputation for themselves, but this suggests
that tattoos do not give off a ‘smart’ look. This is a common attitude because the majority of society have been conditioned to view tattoos in this way. If companies begin to be more open to hiring tattooed applicants, perhaps the stigma will start to disappear. Rather than suggesting that it is more practical to go for a temporary version or have them in less visible places, companies should encourage their employees to embrace who they are, and freely express themselves. Once a few businesses make the move, it is likely that other businesses will follow in their footsteps and conform to this new, open-minded attitude. Have an opinion? Let us know @redbricklife
Say Yes (Or No?) to the Dress Life&Style’s Caitlin Gittins reflects on the changes in marriage culture over the years, and where the obsession with wedding themed TV programmes comes from Caitlin Gittins Life&Style Writer
Marriage culture is an intriguing culture to explore, both embraced and rejected by wider society today. Younger generations (e.g., millennials) are swearing off buying into marriage culture with the average age of those marrying on the rise, whilst TV shows such as Say Yes to the Dress and Don’t Tell the Bride flourish, capitalising on perhaps unhealthy fixations intrinsic with the culture. Say Yes to the Dress oversees the entrance of a hopeful bride-to-be in search of a wedding dress, accompanied by an entourage of those she deems closest to her, and consequently, hold the most influence over her dress choice. She meets with a consultant who promises to find her ‘the perfect dress,’ and after trying on a multitude of dresses to the scrutiny of her entourage, decides on a dress. A budget of somewhere between £1000 – £2500 is allocated for the dress alone. There are several issues to be unpicked from this sequence. Most importantly of all, perhaps, the show is coloured and driven by the overarching pressure to find the perfect dress, to fit in with the theme of the wedding. It is this pressure that seems to mount during the episode, some brides driven to stress and anxiety, others, to frustration and bouts of anger. It is an unreasonable pressure that is only alleviated when the bride finds the perfect dress,
approved by consultant and entourage, typically costing within the price range of £1000 – £2500, to be worn once. The pressure of planning the perfect wedding becomes clear when, in one episode, one bride admits to having three months spare until her wedding day, to the horror of the wedding consultant. The consultant clarifies with the bride that most wedding dresses take six to nine months to complete – a period of time that highlights the worrying fixation on perfection. Don’t Tell the Bride follows the premise of the groom being given all the responsibility of planning a wedding in three weeks, during which he will remain separate from his bride. The show, if anything, serves to highlight the extreme time and effort devoted to planning a wedding, and the potential it has to go wrong. The wedding dress remains a staple of importance in this show, also gifted as a responsibility to the groom, who is under immense pressure to appease the tastes of his bride. The show reveals the pressured emphasis put on every aspect of a wedding, fuelling the predominant need for weddings to be perfect, contributing to marriage culture. Interestingly and possibly troubling to note, the wedding dress fitting is subtly influenced by long-carrying traditions. In one episode of the UK’s counterpart, filmed in the US, a bride selected a pink wedding dress that defied all traditions of the white wedding
dress. This tradition is alleged to have been popularised with Queen Victoria, who wore a white lace wedding gown when she married Prince Albert in 1840. Queen Victoria’s decision was met with affront, as white then was the colour of mourning, and coloured wedding dresses were more popular. However, the legacy of the white wedding dress has remained prevalent in our society today. Wedding dresses are most commonly characterised by being white, with bits of lace, silk or satin. The wedding dress is paired with a veil, also allegedly popularised by Queen Victoria, but dates to the Greeks and Romans, designed to protect the bride from evil spirits. When confronting marriage culture, it appears to have found a weird position in our society where it is embraced and fronted by popular marriage TV shows, whilst simultaneously rejected by millennials, three times more likely to remain unmarried than the Silent Generation. Although it is becoming less popular to marry young, it seems our society still takes a great interest in aspects of wedding culture, such as the price and style of the dress, the painstaking preparation put towards a wedding. The survival of shows that capitalise on this reflect current society’s sustained interest in weddings overall. Regardless of whatever opposition it may face, it is apparent that marriage culture has no intention of departing current society.
Friday 21st February 2020
Storm Ciara Helps to Break Flight Record
Sci&Tech Editor Peter Amor explains how the strong winds of storm Ciara boosted a transatlantic flight to record-breaking speeds Peter Amor Sci&Tech Editor
Ever since Alcock & Brown flew a repurposed World War 1 bomber from Newfoundland to Ireland in 1919, advances in aviation technology and weather prediction have allowed steadily faster transatlantic flights. Progress has been swift; in the 1930s, Britain’s Imperial Airways and America’s Pan American Airways competed to be the first to go direct from Great Britain to America with passengers, while in the 1950s, the advent of the jet engine allowed a much faster regular service. Among all the chaos caused by the recent Storm Ciara, another achievement in the transatlantic flying business went almost unnoticed. Aided by strong winds, a British Airways Boeing 747 broke the subsonic transatlantic flight record, travelling from New York to London in a
mere 4 hours and 56 minutes. During the flight, the aircraft reached speeds of 825 mph, or 1,327 km/h. This may sound like cheating; after all, the speed of sound at 30,000 ft is 678.1 mph, so on paper it sounds as if the aircraft was actually supersonic (faster than the speed of sound). However, this ignores the distinction between airspeed (how fast something moves relative to the air) and groundspeed (how fast something moves relative to the ground). Here, the air in which the aircraft was travelling was itself moving at over 200 mph, hence the high speed. This was possible due to the jetstream, an area of strong west to east winds present at around 5 to 7 miles above the Earth. These are frequently used by aircraft travelling across the atlantic,
which is why it is usually quicker to go from America to Europe, not the other way around. Storm Ciara intensified the winds, and led to the strong winds this flight took advantage of. It is not true to say, however, that this is the fastest flight ever across the atlantic. In fact, it is not even the fastest commercial flight; that honour belongs to another British Airways aircraft, the supersonic Concorde. On 7th February 1996, this Anglo-French engineering marvel covered the New York - London trip in 2 hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds, equating to an average speed of 1,250 mph, or 2,010 k m / h . Although at the moment unlikely to be bettered, various startups including Boom and Aerion Supersonic are developing supersonic airliners that could threaten the record. But what about noncommercial aircraft? Surprisingly, over twenty years before Concorde’s attempt, another aircraft had covered the distance in less than two hours; this being the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. The Blackbird was a high-altitude, high-speed reconnaissance aeroplane, designed to
gather intelligence over the Soviet Union during the Cold War. To avoid being shot down, the aircraft would have to travel at 3 times the speed of sound, which required a number of rather radical features. For example, the aircraft was made almost entirely of titanium alloy, and its windscreen had to be coated in quartz, in order to deal with the intense heat at high speeds. Further, like most jet engines, the SR-71’s engines needed the air travelling into them to be subsonic (slower than the speed of sound), necessitating complicated cone-shaped air intakes that adjusted in flight. All of this aided the aircraft during the record run, on September 1st, 1974, when New York to London was covered in just 1 hour, 54 minutes and 56.4 seconds, equating to an average speed of 1,806 mph, or 2,906 km/h. Does this mean that we’ll all be travelling supersonic in the future? Unfortunately for lovers of speed, the answer is probably not; supersonic commercial flight is currently beset with environmental, practical and economic problems, whether they be from sonic booms, high fuel consumption (Concorde burned 2 tons of the stuff just taxiing to the runway) or severely limited seating capacity. We wait with baited breath to see further developments in this field.
Citizens Assemble on Climate Change Daniella Southin Sci&Tech Writer
‘Which is better for the environment – British beef or an avocado from Peru?’ This is just one of the compelling questions panels of speakers faced at the UK’s first two citizens assemblies on climate change. To gauge the public’s opinion on the UK’s legally binding target of carbon net-zero by 2050, Parliament has called a series of citizens assemblies between January and March. These citizens assemblies aim to represent ‘people from all walks of life across the UK.’ The ‘110 members of the public chosen to reflect the nation in diversity of age, ethnicity, geography and opinion’ supplied varied environmental views with some ‘who would change their iPhone every year, car every three years and just pick up what I wanted from the supermarket.’ Listening to talks about the ethical questions regarding reaching a net-zero carbon environment and the different ways in which this can be achieved, the participants posed some challenging questions for the speakers. With questions like ‘What do you think should be the balance of business and government action on climate change?’ and ‘Is there an
argument for letting climate change happen?’ there is clearly a serious public interest in the effects and solutions to the climate emergency. The assemblies, too, have exposed previously uninterested people to this issue – a success in its own right. Participants said they found the experience ‘inspiring’ and they ‘hope to do more and contribute’. Being ‘informative with a lot of opinions from different people all around country’, the positive effect of climate discussions is evident. With all the jargon and statistics being thrown around amid the climate debates, it can be difficult to catch the terms that are really significant – net-zero amongst them. For our country to become net-zero we must absorb the an amout of carbon equivalent to what we emit, which needs to be drastically lower. While a gross-zero target – ‘reducing emissions from all sources uniformly to zero,’ according to The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) – is what we would strive for in an ideal world, net-zero is significantly more realistic, allowing for some carbon emissions. We can achieve net-zero through natural methods such as planting trees for afforestation or through engineered methods such as carbon
capture and store. Synthetic fuels, an idea posed at the second citizens assembly as a climate solution, seemed not to resonate with the public due largely to their current inaccessibility. Although ‘synthetic fuels seemed like a really persuasive solution’ said one attendee, ‘they’re not ready.’ From this, we can see that the immediacy of climate change appears significant in the public’s opinion of how the government should act. People are concerned about the now. We want to see action, not talk, from the government straight away. In a Redbrick poll, students drastically favoured natural methods of action such as planting trees for afforestation and preventing deforestation. The suggestion here is possibly that amongst students there is a preference for action that will improve not just the climate but the environment more generally. Not only would afforestation aid the climate battle, but it would also recover the habitats of wildlife and increase biodiversity. However, the solution which appeared popular at the assemblies was imposing an annual carbon budget for all citizens. This is the idea that we are all given a specific amount of carbon emissions to ‘spend’ and if we need more, we are to buy them from people who do
not spend all of theirs. A participant said they felt it would ‘create more equality for everyone, so if you have lots of money, people are probably going to take lots of flights because you can afford it. But you’ll probably end up paying extra for that.’ Amid this, there is still the question as to whether the 2050 target is really soon enough. If the public can see the importance of fast action, why can the government not? Extinction Rebellion, a movement fighting for action against climate change, proposed 2025 as the target for net-zero emissions. LSE explain ‘some of the technologies to deliver net-zero don’t yet exist and some that do can’t physically be built in time, and it takes decades for planted trees to grow.’ The prospects of a 2025 net-zero environment are high-cost, and this cost would be ‘most keenly felt by low income groups.’ The effect these assemblies will have on the nation, though, will not be known until a report is given to Parliament in April following the final two assemblies. What is known however, is that the public wants fairness, the public wants fast action and the public wants to stop climate change. But the question remains; what will the government do?
Creature Feature: The Golden Mole Gemma Elgar Music Editor
Golden Moles, or moles from the Chrysochloridae f a m i l y, w e r e f i r s t d i s c o v ered 250 years ago. H o w e v e r, t h e r e i s s t i l l a lot about them that we don't know due to their shy nature and remote habitats. There are 21 known species of Golden Mole, all of which are native to South Africa, and can be only be found there. Since they need specific sand consistencies they are confined to certain locations, and end up rather clumped togethe r. H o w e v e r, d i f f e r e n t species of the mole rarely coexist, preferring to find their own habitats over sharing one. T h e G o l d e n M o l e ’s most charming feature is that they are completely blind to the point of evolving to have no eyes at all, now completely covered over with furry skin. They are burrowing animals, so they closely resemble the Australian marsupial moles that they were once thought to be related to. In certain kinds of Golden Mole, their burrowing systems may contain up to 800 feet of tunnels. Despite their name, they come in colours ranging from a pale yellow to black - the ‘Golden’ refers instead to the iridescent aspect of t h e i r f u r, a n d t h e y r a n g e from 8-20cm in size. They are insectivores that mostly eat termites, millipedes, and earthworms. They have a large, leathery pad that protects their nose when digging. Golden moles move beneath the surface of sand and come up to eat insects on the surface, n o t i c i n g t h e i r p r e y ’s l o c a tions from minute vibrations thanks to their impeccable hearing, their heads working as an amplifier of sound.
Friday 21st February 2020
How Will Brexit Affect UK Science? Ellen Heimpel Sci&Tech Editor
At 11pm on the 31st January 2020, the UK left the EU. It then entered a transition period that will freeze its relationship with the EU for the rest of the year. During this period the UK and the EU must agree on the exact terms of many negotiations. One thing that is commonly overlooked is how this is going to affect science. There are several main issues where policy negotiations during the next 11 months will have a big impact.
Climate Change The UK is currently committed to reduce its carbon emissions under the Paris Climate Agreement. However, this commitment was jointly submitted with the EU and therefore the UK must submit a new UK-only plan for carbon cutting to the UN in the coming months. This could actually make it harder for the EU to reach its agreed targets by 2030 because the UK has performed better than many other EU countries on meeting emissions guidelines over recent years. This is just one of the things that will have to be worked out over the next 11 months. The UK is currently still part of the EUs flagship climate policy- the Emissions Trading Systems- by which 11,000 power stations and industrial facilities can trade carbon permits and incentivise greener options to reduce emissions. It is likely that the UK will leave this agreement and will have to come up with its own carbon tax or carbon market, although this may eventually link up with the EU. In the past, the EU has provided funding for UK-based green projects, such as the geothermal
scheme in Cornwall. However, the UK will now be cut off from EU funds supporting green energy projects and therefore low-carbon investment could suffer unless this funding is replaced by the UK government.
Fishing Upon exit from the EU, the UK will also leave the EUs common fishery policy and officially become an ‘independent coastal state.’ There will need to be a new agreement between the UK and the EU about where, when and how both UK and EU vessels are allowed to fish. It is thought that EU vessels will still be allowed to fish in UK waters, and vice versa, subject to some restrictions.
Farming Under EU law, subsidies to farmers are largely related to how much land that the farmers own, with smaller subsidies being linked to environmental actions for example helping to combat climate change. However, the new UK agriculture bill put forward under Brexit will not award subsidies on just land ownership. Instead farmers will receive payments based on the public goods they deliver- for example better water quality and reduced carbon emissions. This could actually be a positive thing for the environment, however defining what work is environmentally beneficial could prove challenging. For example, rewarding farmers for improving soil health is difficult due to lack of baseline measurements for soil health. Other concerns centre around the uncertainty of how imports and exports will be affected. It is
estimated that 65% of UK agricultural exports are to the EU and 70% of imports come from the EU. Heavy tariffs on these products could have big impacts on farmers. Additionally, there is the possibility that Brexit will put an end to the free movement of EU workers, whom many farmers have begun to rely on.
Environment A YouGov poll commissioned by Friends of the Earth after the Brexit referendum found that 83% of the public expect the same or higher standards as EU laws when it comes to wildlife protection and protection of wild areas. Therefore, we might expect the government to value this and put effort into environmental policies. However, ex-chancellor Sajid Javid recently said that firms shouldn’t expect alignment with the EU environmental regulations following the transition period. This could, for example, result in more firms making fossil-fuel powered cars coming to the UK, with electric vehicles being built elsewhere. The UK government is currently bringing forward an environment bill which will transpose EU legislation on issues such as water and air quality into UK law. However, this will not carry over many of the green principles in EU legislation. For example, the precautionary principle and polluter pays principle may not be incorporated under UK law.
Medicine The production of medicines and other pharmaceutical products may no longer be aligned with EU regulations and therefore
pharmaceutical firms may need to get drugs approved by European medical agencies in order to export to the EU. This could make exporting to the EU harder and more expensive, as well as making the UK less appealing to drugmakers when choosing where to operate.
Scientific Research The EU is an important source of funds for UK science research. Since 2014, UK science has received almost £1.1 billion from EU science funding, with almost 1,400 of the 5000 grants given by the European research council since 2007 going to the UK. With this almost 22% of allocated funding, the UK have made exciting advancements in 3D imaging technology for regenerative medicine, nanoscience and understanding of proto-galaxies. Without this funding provided by the EU, will the UK science community fall back in terms of research? A priority has been highlighted in making sure that EU scientists are free to live and work in the UK. International collaboration is highly important for scientific research, for example, in the particle physics unit of the University of Birmingham, out of 31 personnel, 12 are non-British citizens of EU countries. The government has recognised the importance of allowing this collaboration to continue and have announced that from the 20th February scientists, mathematicians and researchers will be able to apply for a fast-track visa scheme and that there will be no limit for the amount of people coming into the UK. A major concern for UK scientists is whether or not they will be able to join the Horizon Europe research program that will run
from 2021-2027 and involve about €90 billion of investment. The UK currently receives £1.5 billion from the 7-year Horizon 2020 programme but will now have to pay to take part in the next project. Concerns again exist that if the UK does not participate in this project, they will fall behind on scientific research.
GM Research In 2003 the EU issued regulation No 503.2013 on the deliberate release of GMOs into the environment. As a result, any commercial use of GM crops or crop products anywhere in the EU must be approved by the European Commission. Therefore, there are currently no GM crops grown commercially in the UK. This fact is unlikely to change with Brexit, however the definition of what is considered GM may be more prone to change. Gene editing techniques such as CRISPR/cas9 have made many positive advances in scientific research, particularly crop biotechnology. This is a technique that involves making targeted breaks in DNA and causing specific mutations. This does not involve the introduction of any foreign DNA; however, it is still considered a genetic modification technique under EU law. In the US however this technique is allowed. Many UK scientists are hoping for new legislation under Brexit, meaning that CRISPR/ cas9 is no longer considered GM. This could result in UK scientists being able to develop non- GMO crops with lots of advantageous characteristics such as drought or disease resistance and this possibility has been hailed by some as 'the one good thing to come out of Brexit.’
Facebook Settle £550 Million Suit Sci&Tech Writer Daniel Bray explains why Facebook’s facial recognition software fell short of privacy laws in Illionis, resulting in a heavy payout Daniel Bray Sci&Tech Writer
Facebook has just been hit with a $550 million settlement over an Illinois lawsuit filed in 2015 claiming that the company illegally collected data on the faces of its users from Illinois. The class-action suit stems from Facebook’s use of ‘tag suggestions,’ more recently called ‘face recognition,’ which allows them to predict who is in photos uploaded to the site. Facebook says that their face recognition involves creating a numeric template for your face based on photos of you on Facebook - which could include your profile picture, other photos posted by you, and photos that others tag you in. This template is then compared to faces from other photos on Facebook posted by you or your friends, so that the website can attempt to recognise your face appearing in any other content on the site.
Facebook do delete the template if you turn off the face recognition setting, and they seem to take the privacy of this data very seriously - they don’t share the template with anyone else, and won’t suggest that you appear in strangers’ photos. The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) came into effect in 2008. The overview of the act says that in a world where ‘the use of biometrics is growing,’ it aims to place a higher level of security around biometric information, which is ‘unlike other unique identifiers used to access finances or other sensitive information.’ Secure data such as PIN numbers can be changed when compromised, but biometric information is biologically unique to an individual, and is therefore very hard to deal with when compromised. The act states that private entities – in this case, Facebook – must develop a written policy establish-
ing how long they will keep the data, and provide guidelines for data destruction. This policy must be made available to the public. It also asserts that private entities must obtain consent before obtaining any biometric identifies, which Facebook did not do when it first introduced its tag suggestions scheme. BIPA defines biometric identifiers as scans of the retina or iris, fingerprints, hand geometry, voiceprints, and face geometry. As Facebook was creating and storing face templates for users without telling them, this is a clear breach of BIPA. This news has come just as another two class-action lawsuits around the BIPA laws have been served in Illinois against the facial recognition service Clearview AI, which has been put under scrutiny by the New York Times for its trawling of websites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter for images of peoples’ faces, without the con-
sent of the websites, or people, in question. In terms of the financial damage that the previously-mentioned settlement will have on Facebook, the impact looks quite small -
Facebook’s net income in the last year was $18.4 billion, so the $550 million lost due to the lawsuit hasn’t really made a dent on the scale at which they’re making money.
Friday 21st February 2020
Six Nations: Round Three Preview
Sport Writer Dan Hague tells us what to look out for on a weekend where the Six Nations championship cannot be won, but certainly can be lost Dan Hague Sport Writer
The third round of the Six Nations often turns out to be title-deciding, and this year's iteration is set to be no different. Ireland and France are currently leading the championship with two wins each. England and Wales both have one win and Scotland and Italy are floundering with none. It appears safe to say that neither Scotland nor Italy will win the championship. Meanwhile, England and Wales need victories to keep their championship aspirations alive.
However, wins for either Ireland or France elevates them to the title favourites.
Italy vs Scotland Perhaps the least interesting fixture of the weekend sees Scotland travel to Rome. Scotland have played some attractive rugby these last two weeks, but an inability to convert promising field position into points has been their Achilles heel. They have scored no tries in this year's championship perhaps because they are missing their playmaking talisman Finn Russell who, after a dispute with head coach Gregor Twitter/englandrugby
Townsend, was removed from the squad. Scotland have also made crucial mistakes at key times. The most notable of these can be attributed their captain and best player Stuart Hogg. He dropped the ball with the whitewash at his mercy against Ireland and gifted England the decisive try in the Calcutta Cup a week later when he failed to deal with a bobbling ball at a wet and windy Murrayfield. The less said about Italy the better. Italy have not won a six nations fixture in five years; losing 24 consecutive matches. This game is exactly what Scotland need to build into the rest of the championship and I foresee an away win. ITV 1, Saturday at 14:15
Wales vs France In the second Saturday fixture, France play Wales in Cardiff. When playing England, France were consistently disciplined and tenacious in defence throughout the whole match. In round two though, Les Bleus were somewhat erratic, allowing an Italy team to cause them far more problems than expected. Meanwhile, Wales looked assured playing Italy in Cardiff,
but when they travelled to the Aviva Stadium to play Ireland they looked lost in attack. The emotional impact France's defensive coach Shaun Edwards will have could be crucial. After being part of the Welsh coaching setup for 12 years under Warren Gatland, Edwards is facing Wales for the first time since his move across the channel. Nonetheless, in my opinion, the result will be decided by the location which will see Wales win a close encounter. BBC 1, Saturday at 16:45
England vs Ireland On Sunday, England play their first home game of the tournament against Ireland, who were put under significant pressure by Scotland and were rescued on several occasions by CJ Stander. The back-rower was also exceptional against Wales and led his side to a bonus point victory. On the other hand, England have looked blunt with the ball and dogged in defence. Attack coach Simon Amor will be feeling the pressure this weekend. We do not really know what to expect from England. The conditions in Edinburgh, courtesy of Storm Ciara, demanded ultra-conservative rugby and against France,
they were likely influenced by a World Cup hangover and the Saracens salary cap scandal. This game is too close to call. Ireland have been more impressive in the championship but recent history suggests that England are very tough to beat at Twickenham. The face-off between Ireland head coach Andy Farrell, his son and England captain Owen, adds even more intrigue to what already promises to be a fascinating game. It is likely that Scotland will beat Italy. However, elsewhere, the third round of the championship will be the most interesting yet with nothing separating the sides in the latter two games. ITV 1, Sunday at 14:15
Six Nations Table W
The Next Generation of Managers
Jake Lang selects four little-known bosses to watch out for in the future Jake Lang
José Bordalás - Getafe Despite being the oldest of the four, Bordalás is a relative newcomer to the top-flight managerial scene. Bordalás (right) took over Getafe in September 2016, winning promotion in his debut season. Getafe finished eighth in their first campaign back in La Liga, before Bordalás surpassed expectations again last season finishing fifth.
“Bordalas deserve recognition for the well oiled 4-4-2 system” Getafe are unfairly portrayed as a rough side due to their highfouling, aggressive nature. However, Bordalás deserves recognition for the well-oiled 4-4-2 system built upon a close understanding throughout the team’s spine. Their press is relentless, the opposing full-backs are the trigger, forcing them into low-percentage passes into Getafe's compact midfield. Offensively, the Madrid-based club rely on quick
transitions through Marc Cucarella and Francisco Portillo out wide, looking to get the ball into combative strike partnership Jaime Mata and Jorge Molina. Getafe are a well-balanced side, coupled with recruitment that suits the specific team roles Bordalás requires. Considering Diego Simeone’s unsettled situation at Atletico Madrid, Bordelás would be a deserving replacement.
predecessor's spell. Marsch’s continuation of the Red Bull franchises' vertical football à la Rose, Julian Nagelsmann and Ralph Hassenhüttl has retained the cult following amongst the football analyst world. The American went viral after his half-time team talk against Liverpool at Anfield, demanding his players show they belong at this level. His side were 3-0 down after 36 minutes and were ultimately unlucky to lose 4-3. His all-out attacking mentality was signified by Salzburg scoring 16 goals in the UCL group stage. The phenomenal rise of Erling Braut Håaland can be attributed to Marsch’s personable and intricate approach. Marsch's ideology is similar to Lyon. The French club's sporting director Juninho will be interested to see how Marsch copes after the sales of Håaland and Takumi Minamino in January.
Jesse Marsch – RB Salzburg Red Bull Salzburg’s chosen successor to Borussia Monchengladbach bound Marco Rose, Marsch (right) is faced with a significant task of matching his
Arne Slot – AZ Alkmaar
Instagram/riverplate Marcelo Gallardo – River Plate Gallardo (above) is River Plate's most successful manger, winning two Copa Libertadores. The Argentinian, who had two stints with River as a player, has found consistency in his sides despite the constant allure of Europe for his top players (Exequiel Palacios most recently). Favouring to play a diamond, Gallardo emphasises possession and moving the ball vertically. However, his best asset is his ability to create an environment where his players thrive under pressure. Provided his playing career, a move to Spain or France is most likely. Gallardo was linked to the Barcelona job before the appointment of Setién.
Slot (below) was promoted from assistant to head coach of AZ Alkmaar in 2019. He opts for a 4-2-3-1 in possession, switching to a 4-4-2 when defending. The front three of Myron Boadu, Calvin Stengs and Oussama Idrissi are constantly rotating, creating an ever-changing attacking structure that causes havoc amongst defences. The 41-year-old encourages one and two touch play, often building on one flank and finishing on the other. His side sit second in the Eredivisie and are into the last 32 of the Europa League, with a very winnable tie coming up against LASK. Slot’s vertical football and development of young players makes him the ideal replacement for Erik Ten Hag at Dutch giants Ajax.
Friday 21st February 2020
Formula 1: Five Young Drivers to Watch Ahead of the 2020 Season Kyle Moffat Sport Writer
The new Formula 1 season is just a matter of weeks away, with many of the F1 cars now released and drivers practising out on track. Looking ahead, there are a number of young talents who can greatly improve in 2020 and create a competitive grid for the future. Here are five exciting drivers to keep an eye on for the new season; they could surpass all expectations over the coming months.
Carlos Sainz Jr.
McLaren were rewarded last season for their faith in Sainz as he managed to earn 96 points (with eight top six finishes) and his first ever podium in F1. While Lando Norris is also a notable mention, Sainz is sure to finish above him and aim for podiums in the coming season. He has been an important part in McLaren’s revival and will aim to earn his stay for the 2021 campaign, when the Mercedes-Benz engines will be in use.
With the most pole positions in 2019, Leclerc will be trying to earn more wins to place pressure on the dominating Mercedes car. He has proven that with low fuel he can race with the best in any grand prix. Also, earning more points than four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel in his first season with Ferrari should not be overlooked, as he has proven to be a natural fit for the legendary Italian constructer. It will also be interesting to see if Ferrari favour him over Vettel.
Albon (pictured) earned his move to the Milton Keynes-based Red Bull team for the second half of last season. He showed plenty of promise following the move, consistently producing good performances. After the collision with Lewis Hamilton in Brazil that denied him a podium finish in 2019, Albon will look to earn the podiums and the points that will enable him to maintain the Red Bull seat. Some stunning races starting from the back of the grid last year (especially in Belgium) should fuel him with the confidence to succeed in 2020.
Esteban Ocon Renault’s replacement for Nico Hulkenberg needs to prove quickly that he can gain points and challenge the team's number one driver, the Australian Daniel Ricciardo. After being on the sidelines in 2019 as Mercedes reserve driver, Ocon will want to show that he has not lost his prowess on the track. Finishing eighth and twelfth in the 2017 and 2018 drivers' championships respectively, he has his potential to become a staple in F1 for years, so if he can prove his worth alongside Ricciardo, he should help Renault compete in the midfield.
George Russell After consistently outperforming Polish veteran Robert Kubica in 2019, Russell will look to his new teammate in Nicholas Latifi for a battle at the back of the grid. The former Formula 2 champion has been unfortunate with the performance of the Williams car, which has resulted in him being overlooked. However, he can be a future F1 legend so 2020 can be the year where Russell earns a big move to a superior constructor, allowing him to race drivers other than his teammate.
Manchester City Hit With Two Year European Ban for FFP Breaches Lauren Coffman Sport Writer
When Manchester City travel to the Bernabeu next week to face Real Madrid in the Last 16 of the Champions League, they do so in a markedly different situation to when the draw was conducted. This is after it was announced earlier this week that the club have been banned from the Champions League for the next two seasons, due to a breach of Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules. The Manchester side have also been fined 30 million euros (£24.9 million), for what UEFA, the governing body for European football, has cited as 'serious breaches' of their financial regulations. The allegations largely centre around owner Sheikh Mansour and the suspected excessive use of his personal capital in order to fund sponsorship of the club, including their stadium and kit, by Etihad, the official airline of his native Abu Dhabi, as well as the alleged concealment of such dealings in accounts submitted between 20122016. The ban stretches across all UEFA club competitions, though it is the loss of Champions League football that will without a doubt be the most agonising, and is set to begin next season. In addition, Pep Guardiola’s side could yet face further punishment including a possible points deduction in the
Premier League, as domestic Financial Fair Play rules are largely similar, though so far this is only speculation. While Manchester City have dominated the Premier League in recent years, winning it twice since Guardiola joined the club, the Champions League trophy has so far escaped their clutches. As Barcelona manager Guardiola lifted the trophy twice, but should the ban uphold, this season’s competition may prove to be his last chance to reach the same feat with City before his current contract is up. This Real Madrid team, ruthless on their day, will certainly be a test as tough as they come for a Man City side who have everything to play for. With the league all but lost to a rampant Liverpool team with a 25-point advantage, these sanctions add pressure to an already crucial champions league campaign for Guardiola. The club have announced they intend to appeal the decision, but fans headed to Madrid worried this may be their last European visit for a few years. Man City must put all their eggs into this Champions League basket or risk the consequences of wasting what has undoubtedly been the club’s most prolific period in their history. Manchester City issued a statement earlier this week suggesting that the club was 'disappointed but not surprised' at
UEFA’s decision. They also called the process 'prejudicial' before making it clear that they would be appealing the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Manchester City and Guardiola will face a great deal of uncertainty and will have many vital decisions to make over the coming weeks and months, as they fight a legal battle as big as they come in football. The outcome will certainly have wide-reaching consequences, not just for the club but for European football, where it will undoubtedly set a
precedent for future financial dealings and for the ongoing power balance between SuperClubs and governing bodies in the sport. Whether City ultimately end up serving their ban is anyone’s guess, as this is what will become of the current squad and staff if the club’s appeal is unsuccessful,. Whatever the outcome, it will certainly be a watershed moment for Manchester City as a superclub and for the power and use of money in European football.
Column: Sport that Stuck With Me Tom Leaman Editor-in-Chief
It might not have been the most glamourous of occasions, but the 2017 League Two play-off semifinal second leg between Exeter City and Carlisle United will live long in the memory of those in attendance. Allow me to set the scene. In December 2016, Exeter were rock bottom of the Football League. Manager Paul Tisdale was served notice on his contract. After an incredible run of form in the second half of the season, inspired by Ollie Watkins (now starring in the Championship for high-flying Brentford), City ended the season in the play-offs.
“What followed turned out to be one of the most remarkable matches I've ever seen” The tie was balanced on a knife-edge after a spectacular first leg in Carlisle, which ended 3-3 after Exeter threw away a two-goal advantage. What followed in the second leg turned out to be one of the most remarkable matches I’ve ever seen live. Like the first leg, Exeter started well and seemed comfortable. Watkins fired them into a two-goal lead in the 79th minute, with his second goal curling exquisitely over the helpless Carlisle goalkeeper. What could possibly go wrong from here? As it happened, almost everything. Carlisle pulled a goal back moments later and, in the 90th minute, John O’Sullivan popped up to level the aggregate score at 5-5. At this point, having completed their second comeback from a two-goal deficit in the tie, Carlisle surely held the momentum. Football, as they say, can be a very cruel game. For Carlisle, this proved to be the case with one final swing of the pendulum. In the 95th minute, with extra-time looming, Exeter launched one final attack. The ball fell to City’s on-loan rightback, Jack Stacey, 20 yards from goal. To cries of don’t shoot’echoing from the Exeter dugout, he pulled the trigger. The ball arrowed into the top corner. The stadium erupted. In true play-off fashion, Exeter completed their rise from the foot of the table to make it to Wembley on a night that is now written into the club’s folklore. Invariably, it ended in disappointment against Blackpool in the final. Jack Stacey rejected a chance to make his loan move permanent, while Watkins and Ethan Ampadu quickly moved on to pastures new. In spite of this, the magic of that semi-final will always live on.
Friday 21st February 2020
Intercept: Netball Squad Aiming to Continue Unbeaten Run at Showpiece Jack Wooldridge
The squad in the Premier North, which, alongside the Premier South, is the top league at university level. There are six The netball first team's face teams in each division that play a championship quartereach other twice before the final game against either two merge into the ChampiLeeds Beckett or Gloucesonship, which determines tershire on the 26th Februthe best netball team in ary in the sport’s showcase England. ‘The Champievent: Intercept. This is onship is the one evthe fourth event in UBeryone is trying to be Sport’s Super-Series in,’ explained Rattu, following Xplosion, the Wasps Under-21 Uproar, and Encentre. gage. Despite losing I sat down out in the final to with Ellie RatHertfordshire, tu, co-captain the 2018/19 of the Netball season was firsts, to disone to rememcuss all things ber. The team netball and Inwon the Pretercept. mier North and Rattu began made it all the by explaining way to the final, Sophie Peck the game. The aim defeating strong is to outscore the opsides – such as Bath ponent by throwing the – in the process. ‘I think ball into their hoop. The the fact we even made it to main rules are as follows: the final last year was a goal in players are not allowed to itself,’ Rattu said, as she reflected move with the ball; playon last year’s experience in the ers can only hold the ball Championship. for three seconds; the ball This time around, they aim to must be passed in each go one step further and claim the third before a shot can title. The co-captain said, ‘Now be taken; and it is nonwe know we can hold our own contact. and be close, we want to push Sport Writer
on and win it this year.’ The team has been in excellent form this season, winning all ten league games. When asked for the reason for their success, Rattu revealed, ‘we are a lot stronger than we were last year.’ Winning the competition is a realistic ambition for the UoB's 2018/19 team of the year. The journey to the final starts with Intercept and a quarter-final tie against either Gloucestershire or Leeds Beckett (who, at time of writing, are yet to play). Intercept will take place on Wednesday 26th February at 7pm in front of a packed-out crowd at the Munrow Arena. In addition to this exciting game, the spectators can expect a variety of food stalls, raffle prizes and music to keep them entertained. Those watching will also be treated to a half-time performance from the Birmingham Pussycats (UoB’s cheerleading squad). ‘We love that its being showcased and that it’s being advertised across the university so that everyone knows about it. It should be really fun not just to watch the game but the whole environment and everything that’s going on around us,’ said Rattu. Focusing on the game, it is one that the team cannot afford to lose but one they should win comfortably. Rattu agreed that it was
‘really important’ that the team stays focused and deals with the added pressure. ‘Our job is to go and win, and hopefully win by a lot and practice all the things that we have done throughout the season regardless of what’s going on around us.’ The team are favourites after winning the league and, as they will be facing a lower ranked side, Rattu’s confidence in her team’s ability to progress stood out throughout the interview: ‘We are fairly confident - we know our ability.’ Fran Williams (left), who plays in goal defence, is one netballer to look out for at Intercept. She has been in the England setup for the last two years. Although she has been away for most of the league campaign, she has returned for the knockout stages and will look to drive the team forward. Playing in goal attack. England Under-21 netballer Kira Rothwell will be amongst the goals – another player to keep an eye on. We also discussed the development of Netball as a professional sport. Since England won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2018, there has seen a spike in participation figures and a rise in the game’s reputation. ‘For netball even to be mentioned and recognised globally is amazing,’ said the 19-year-old.
Rattu declared that the fact that becoming professional, which would have been unheard of ten years ago, is now an option is ‘incredible’. Rattu can now dream of making netball her job and hopes to acquire England caps in the future.
“The team are favourites after winning the league” She also encourages anyone inspired by the forthcoming event to get involved in netball at the university with ‘so many different things going on’ from playing in BUCS competitions to playing casually in the Campus League. For now, Rattu’s focus remains on leading the university’s netball team to victory, beginning with Intercept at the end of the month. It will be an exciting occasion where we can expect to be entertained both on and off the court. Intercept tips off at 7:00pm on Wednesday 26th February. Entry for the evening is free.
Lockdown: Men and Women Under the Spotlight in Basketball Double-Header Sport Editor Kit Shepard caught up with basketball players Cristina ZohilMorton, Hannah Cook and Will Smith ahead of Lockdown 2020 Kit Shepard Sport Editor
On Saturday 29th February, Lockdown will return for its sixth year. One of the biggest annual BUCS events on campus, the spectacle sees both the female and male basketball first teams playing back-to-back in front of hundreds of fans in Slater Hall. American-style bleachers are brought in to provide a raucous environment, and with performances from the Dance, Bhangra and Cheerleading societies, this year’s iteration promises to showcase the very best of UoB. How then, should the players prepare for such an occasion? Women’s player Cristina ZohilMorton is wary of possible distractions. ‘You have your friends, your housemates, [your] family members come, so you hear them cheering for you and kind of laugh a little bit.’ she admits. As a thirdyear student, Zohil-Morton is a Lockdown veteran, and could be relied upon to instill a sense of calm and focus in her team-mates. ‘Although it is a big, fun event,
we do definitely have to be in the right mindset.’ Meanwhile, men’s player Will Smith believes there is no harm in approaching the game a little differently. ‘It’s not every day that you get to play in front of a few hundred people', the second-year forward reveals. ‘There are a lot of people there, it is a big game for us and it is a big event, so we need to make the most of it in every sense’. For Smith, it is a matter of striking a balance between recognising the high stakes without letting them negatively affect the team’s play. ‘There is a lot of pressure for us to perform, not only for ourselves and the league but also for the people that are watching, so I think we owe them a good game.’ Even without the cheering fans, converted court and live commentary, there certainly is plenty of pressure on both teams to get a victory next weekend. Smith admits that the men have ‘had quite a turbulent season.’ The Lions sit in mid-table and their Lockdown fixture, against Warwick, could determine what
they spend the final matches of streak. the year battling for. ‘If we lose Perhaps the key for this, it will put us in a bad position the squads on the day for the rest of the season, and if will be a handful of win it, it may give us a chance of individuals making being near the top of the table.’ pivotal plays at vital The top is a place that the junctures, and Smith, women’s squad have Zohil-Morton and become very familiar with Cook believe this campaign, as they are both teams posyet to lose a game in their sess this in abunown push for promodance. ‘We’ve tion. ‘[There’s] just got quite a wella really good vibe rounded team, in the team at the we’ve got some moment,’ says big guys, some first-year fast guys, some Hannah Cook. shooters,’ says Nevertheless, Smith, who with next believes that Saturday’s fixany Lion could ture against s h i n e . Nottingham ‘Everyone is counting someone to towards the look out for.’ Sophie Peck league the Z o h i l atmosMorton is phere, more specific, i n the mind of but she lists a several Zohil-Morton, players to watch on becomes ‘more the women’s side, intense’ as they look including to continue their C e r y s
Sharples and her ‘money shot close to the baseline,’ Florence Muller, whose ‘point guard skills are amazing,’ while Hester Folley has been ‘outstanding in and around the post’ according to Cook. Clearly. The trio all believe that there is fantastic talent running all the way through their respective squads. The result is important for both teams but, win or lose, it is set to be a memorable day for all involved. Having the men and women play in the same event ‘really brings us all together as friends and team-mates’, says Zohil-Morton. Smith agrees, revealing that it ‘helps the club’s togetherness as well as bringing more spectators to make the event bigger’. UoB students then have no reason not to get themselves down to the Munrow Arena on 2020’s extra afternoon and in the words of Cook, ‘come and see what basketball’s all about.’ Lockdown tips off at 4:00pm on Saturday 29th February. Tickets can be purchased through the UBSport website.
Friday 21st February 2020
BUCS Sports Club of the Fortnight: Karate John Rogers Sport Editor
UOB Karate are a club that has made enormous strides this year. They return home from this years’ BUCS Nationals – the club’s most important competitive event – having boosted their points total from only 4 last year to 27 this year, resulting in a third place finish out the fifty competing universities. The team competed in two disciplines, Kata and Kumite. The former is a demonstration of a choreographed pattern of moves, while the latter is the physical engagement of fighters on the mat. UoB picked up five medals (listed, right) in the Kumite, including three golds. Club president Joseph Estruch paid tribute to coach Mairi Kerin following the event saying: 'It definitely wouldn’t have been possible without Mairi, who is coaching us alongside her own training, competing and PhD.' There is no rest for the club following BUCS however, and Estruch is hoping for more success at the Kyu Grade Nationals this Sunday. It is a chance for
those students below black belt to attain national novice titles. Away from the mat, UOB Karate's membership has rapidly grown amidst financial troubles inherited from previous years. Boasting 60 members, Karate has doubled the number from last year, and is naturally a regular sports night attendee.
A Note From the Sports Officer: Josh Dooler Sports Officer
For the University of Birmingham Karate club, last weekend’s BUCS Nationals in Sheffield is one of the highlights of their season and it didn’t disappoint. From the fourteen contestants that we sent up North, UoB managed to bring home five medals which is an amazing achievement. Sophie Prosser won Bronze in the 50kg senior Kumite and Mairi Kerin secured gold in the the 55kg Kumite,. The karate club also came away with two golds and a bronze in the novice events which led to a third place finish at Nationals this year!
“Karate has grown its membership rapidly amidst financial troubles” More impressive than anything however, may be the club’s dedication to charity work this year. Making use of being awarded the Alumni Fund, UOB Karate has put on events raising money for cancer research. They will also be conducting an outreach programme at the start of April for 90 school children from disadvantaged backgrounds, giving them a taste of university karate as well as university life.
The club thus prides itself on its outreach, inclusivity and in offering a thriving social environment away from the mat, while the sport is great for both fitness and self-confidence. Getting involved with UOB Karate is still possible this year. They are offering term three training, with initial plans suggesting an offering of three hours per week, with memberships available now for only £44.
GOLD: Mairi Kerin – Senior Female under 55kg Kumite Joey Lim – Novice Male under 80kg Kumite Ben Jefferies – Novice Male plus 80kg Kumite BRONZE: Sophie Prosser – Senior Female under 50kg Kumite Joe Chamberlain – Novice Male under 80kg Kumite
“Five medals is an amazing achievement” It’s clear that their hard work and dedication to karate throughout the year has paid off and the club should be incredibly proud of what they have achieved this weekend!
Six of the Best: UoB in the medals at BUCS Indoor Athletics Championships
Sport Writer James Davis reports from an exciting weekend of track and field James Davis Sport Writer
Two weeks after BUAC (the university athletics club) secured three medals at the BUCS Cross Country Championships, the red and gold vests were in action once again, this time at the BUCS Indoor Athletics Championships. Head of Athletics Luke Gunn lead a team containing four of last year’s eight medallists up to the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield for the three-day event. 60 metre hurdles was one of two events with titles decided on the Friday, and postgraduate student Jake Porter was the sole Birmingham athlete to be involved in a final on the day. There was a nervy start for Porter, as a Middlesex athlete false started in the final. The starter recalled the athletes, but only after most were up and into their running, and this resulted in the entire field finishing the race, only to be called back to run again. Despite the disruption, Porter came through to take silver in a time of 8.00 seconds, an improvement on the previous year’s silver. There were no finals for BUAC on the Saturday, and so Sunday quickly came around with
eighteen Birmingham athletes qualified for finals. Track captain Issy Boffey (below, front) featured in the women’s 400 metres final, dropping down in distance from the 800 metres title she won in 2019. As the fastest qualifier by over two seconds, Boffey was wellfancied. Drawn in the outside lane, the European U20 800 metres champion led from the off, breaking first and showing endur-
ance to pull away from the field and win in 53.65 seconds. Also on Sunday afternoon was the women’s high jump, involving Laura Zialor. After qualifying easily, Zialor showed herself to be the class of the field, with a clean card up until the height that won her the competition, and therefore gold, 1.78 metres. She subsequently cleared 1.81 metres solo, before three failed attempts at a new personal best of 1.84. photographybyjonty
Concurrently with kept the Birmingham the high jump, team in contenCesca Brint took tion for the first to the track for three legs, and the 800 metres Issy Boffey final. Leading found herthrough the self in third first 400 p l a c e , m e t r e s , shoulderThe finish time of the despite being to-shoulder women’s 4x200m relay overtaken on with the team, a new club record the last lap by anchor leg and enough for a silver L o u i s e runner for medal Shanahan of Brunel, as Cambridge, they entered Brint showed a the first bend. good kick to finish Showing sprint strongly, and pocketed speed not usually a silver and a time of 2:11.08 found in 800-metre athfor her troubles. letes, Boffey not only kicked The last individual races on away from the Brunel athlete, track were the 1500 metres finals. but also overtook Bath in second For the men, Tom Keen was place, finishing in a time of involved, fresh from his record- 1:39.85 and a new club record, breaking exploits in Vienna two to take home a team silver. weeks prior. Keen sat near the After three days of competifront of the pack over the first 600 tion, Birmingham came away metres, and then timed his effort, from Sheffield with 6 medals, to kick with over 400 metres to with two golds, three silvers and go. Sadly his exertions proved a bronze. All eyes now turn mistimed, and he was only able to towards the outdoor season, with secure the bronze medal on the the exception of the university’s line with a dip finish and a time of elite athletes, who will be look3:59.79. ing to compete at the British Finally on track were the Championships indoors this 4x200 metre relays. Hannah Kelly, upcoming weekend. Hannah Jones and Lauren Butler
Fury vs Wilder II: Heavyweights Set to Battle Again in Colossal Clash Sport Writer Henry Arkill previews one of the biggest fights of the 21st century Henry Arkill Sport Writer
In the early hours of Sunday morning, reigning WBC Heavyweight champion of the world Deontay Wilder and lineal champion Tyson Fury will meet for the second time at the MGM Grand Las Vegas in what many consider a clash of the top two fighters in the division. After their controversial draw in 2018, this is the most significant Anglo-American heavyweight matchup since Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield met for the second time in 1999, and represents a clash of styles and nations worthy of its pay-per-view status. It is the nature of a rematch that greater attention will be put on the adjustments which both fighters make as a result of the circumstances of their first encounter. We saw as much in the rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr. in December. On that occasion, it was Joshua who made the necessary adjustments on the night to cruise to a comfortable points victory against an out-of-shape Ruiz, for Instagram/toprank
whom success had proved his undoing. Fortunately, no such preparatory issues should affect this rematch, with both men arriving at the fight in peak physical condition.
“Fury has dabbled in the ridiculous at times since his first fight” Wilder is a natural athlete and arrived in camp off the back of his victory over the old man of the division Luis Ortiz which ended, as is customary for him, with a devastating right-hand to his opponent, which he also landed on Dominic Breazeale in his only other fight since his first clash with Fury. However, Fury has dabbled in the ridiculous at times since the first fight, appearing in the WWE over the period in which he was recovering from the serious cut he sustained in his fight with the Swede Otto Wallin. That was an occasion where Fury demonstrated his ability to grind out a victory in adverse conditions, and rarely are the conditions as adverse as they are when facing Wilder. Fury is all too familiar with the immense power Wilder carries in his right hand. Despite out-boxing him for at least nine rounds of the first fight in the popular view, he was downed on two separate occasions, the second of which looked to have finished him off for good. Somehow. he managed to recover and surely gained a significant mental victory in the process. Rather than training to get fit as he was to an extent with Ben Davison for the first fight, Fury is training to increase his own knockout potential with new trainer ‘SugarHill’ Steward, and this is reflected in his increased weight of roughly 19
stone. The 31-year-old must once again control the distance, occupy Wilder’s right hand with feints and then assert his physical dominance confidently on the inside. A knockout would prevent any repeat of the officiating drama of the initial bout, and Fury has shown brutal finishing in America before when dispatching Steve Cunningham. Of course though, Wilder is a different beast. Wilder has a history of winning rematches and will do so again if he can capitalise on the openings which he was offered in the first fight. Should Fury slip to the right often and duck with his head down, Wilder should look either to delay his right hand or meet his stooping opponent with a left hook or uppercut. It is these habits and the familiarity that the pair have with one another, combined with the fact that they are both undefeated in 11 years, that makes the rematch so interesting. The fight is streaming on BT Box Office in the UK around 3am and looks to be well worth staying up for.
The Dominant Duo: Fury and Wilder's Last Five Fights Fury and Wilder have not been stretched in recent bouts - except by each other
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Fury: Otto Wallin - win by UD (Sep '19) Tom Schawrz - win by TKO (Jun '19) Deontay Wilder - Draw (Dec '18) Francesco Pianeta - win on pts (Aug '18) Sefer Seferi - win by RTD (Jun '18) Wilder: Luis Ortiz - win by KO (Nov '19) Dominic Breazeale - win by KO (May '19) Tyson Fury - Draw (Dec '18) Luis Ortiz - TKO (Mar '18) Bermane Stiverne - KO (Nov '17)
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